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Wits University Press

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I Want To Go Home Forever: a powerfully original collection of raw and honest personal stories about xenophobia and belonging in Gauteng

Like all excellent ideas the one that animates this book is both disarmingly simple and powerfully original. So much has been written on xenophobia in South Africa, and yet so few have listened with care and precision to the voices of the ordinary people at the coalface. This book unsettles so many old assumptions, like who is host and who visitor, who belongs and what indeed it might mean to belong at all. It does this simply by creating a space in which people bare witness to their lives.
- Jonny Steinberg, South African writer and scholar and author of A Man of Good Hope (2015)

These are raw, honest personal stories – some heartbreaking, some uplifting. Beautifully told, each story is a study of journey-making. No matter where we may have been born, each of us seeks a place where we will be safe and respected for who we are. The stories in this collection illustrate that no journey is easy – each act of leaving and each attempt to begin again is tough. At their core however, these stories grapple with the making of a nation. Taken together, these narratives illustrate the quest for dignity and so they tell the story of humanity and striving, and ambition in the midst of profound difficulty. This book speaks to South African and African concerns but at its heart, it documents a set of global phenomena that are important to anyone who cares about the state of the world today.
- Sisonke Msimang, activist and author of Always Another Country

Generations of people from across Africa, Europe and Asia have turned metal from the depths of the earth into Africa’s wealthiest, most dynamic and most diverse urban centre, a mega-city where post-apartheid South Africa is being made. Yet for newcomers as well as locals, the golden possibilities of Gauteng are tinged with dangers and difficulties.

Chichi is a hairdresser from Nigeria who left for South Africa after a love affair went bad.

Azam arrived from Pakistan with a modest wad of cash and a dream.

Estiphanos trekked the continent escaping political persecution in Ethiopia, only to become the target of the May 2008 xenophobic attacks.

Nombuyiselo is the mother of 14-year-old Simphiwe Mahori, shot dead in 2015 by a Somalian shopkeeper in Snake Park, sparking a further wave of anti-foreigner violence.

After fighting white oppression for decades, Ntombi has turned her anger towards African foreigners, who, she says are taking jobs away from South Africans and fuelling crime.

Papi, a freedom fighter and activist in Katlehong, now dedicates his life to teaching the youth in his community that tolerance is the only way forward.

These are some of the thirteen stories that make up this collection. They are the stories of South Africans, some Gauteng-born, others from neighbouring provinces, striving to realise the promises of democracy. They are also the stories of newcomers from neighbouring countries and from as far afield as Pakistan and Rwanda, seeking a secure future in those very promises.

The narratives, collected by researchers, journalists and writers, reflect the many facets of South Africa’s post-apartheid decades. Taken together they give voice to the emotions and relations emanating from a paradoxical place of outrage and hope, violence and solidarity. They speak of intersections between people and their pasts, and of how, in the making of selves and the other they are also shaping South Africa. Underlying these accounts is a nostalgia for an imagined future that can never be realised. These are stories of forever seeking a place called ‘home’.

Loren B. Landau is the South African Research Chair in Human Mobility and the Politics of Difference at the African Centre for Migration & Society, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Some of his books include The Humanitarian Hangover: Displacement, Aid, and Transformation in Western Tanzania (Wits Press); editor of Exorcising the Demons Within: Xenophobia, Violence and Statecraft in Contemporary South Africa (Wits Press), and contributor to the Wits Press book, Go Home or Die Here: Violence, Xenophobia and the Reinvention of Difference in South Africa.

Tanya Pampalone is the managing editor of the Global Investigative Journalism Network. The former executive editor of Mail & Guardian, has won the prestigious journalism award for creative writing, the Standard Bank Sikuvile, in 2012.

Book details

  • I Want to go Home Forever: Stories of Becoming and Belonging in South Africa’s Great Metropolis edited by Loren Landau, Tanya Pampalone
    EAN: 9781776142217
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