Mzelelo, 32, comes from the Eastern Cape. He practises as a sangoma and works as a rock drill operator at Lonmin Platinum Mine. He earns a basic wage of R6538 and a sleep-out allowance of R1950 per month. He also receives a monthly bonus of R550, to which only rock drill operators are entitled. According to Mzelelo, his ancestors gave him the cow-tail whisk and stick while he was sleeping. It enables him to have visions; it guides, instructs, leads and protects him and shows him the way. It has given him the power to communicate with those who are not on the earth with us. He did not come to the koppie of his own free will, but was told to come by the ancestors and give the dead miners a report. By sprinkling snuff, which represents the beginning of communication between him and the dead, he is able to listen more carefully to the dead miners’ concerns. He explains, ‘Unfortunately what these miners died for never happened, so I am here to tell those that are dead. They died for nothing; everything that they demanded from the mine was never met. My heart is too sore; I know that these men died for the community and their children. I am here to share with them the on-going events at the commission of inquiry and what will happen in the future. They are seemingly very angry, so I want to know what is the step forward from here?’ From Legacy of the Mine, 2010–2013
Edition of 7 + 2AP
Sheet size A2 (420 x 594mm).
Ultrachrome Pigmentprint on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Ultra Smooth Archival Paper 305 g/sqm
Print number: IG1400X-6
For more than a century, South Africa’s demand for gold, diamonds, coal and platinum has gone from strength to strength, often shifting in accordance with the political economy and the availability of foreign markets. Mineral exploitation by means of cheap and disposable labour has brought national economic growth, making the mining industry the largest industrial sector in South Africa. The mine, irrespective of the particular minerals extracted, is central to understanding societal change across the country. The issues it raises in South Africa are evidently comparable to mining concerns around the world. This enabled Ilan Godfrey to channel his conception of the mine into visual representations that gave agency to forgotten communities. The countless stories of personal suffering are brought to the surface and the legacy of the mine is revealed. This is apparent through land rendered unfit for alternative uses, through public health crises within local communities, land and water pollution, and through the disruptive influence of historical labour exploitation impacting on familial structures and cultural positioning. – Ilan Godfrey