A SOUTH AFRICAN ODYSSEY
Photographs by David Goldblatt, Essay by Phillip van Niekerk, Accounts by Brenda Goldblatt, Afterword by Alex Harris
Book design by Margaret Sartor
An Aperture book and traveling exhibition in association with the Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University, 1989
In words and pictures, this book records the embattled lives of black South Africans banished to KwaNdebele, a segregated “homeland” outside Pretoria. Because of the distance between KwaNdebele and the city where nearly all are employed, the workers must endure four to eight-hour daily bus commutes on rutted roads. In Johannesburg-based Goldblatt’s twenty-six realistically grainy, drowsy black-and-white duotone photographs, men and women sit slumped in their seats, seeking a brief respite; wait fatigued at bus stops; and otherwise submit to drudgery. South African Brenda Goldblatt, a CBS news producer, assembles oral histories of laborers; South African van Niekerk, a Boston Globe reporter, offers a historical perspective on the workers’ plight; and Duke University photography instructor Harris places the pictures in a political context. These combined efforts result in a direct, sober and unself-dramatizing document.