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The Night Trains: Moving Mozambican Miners to and from the Witwatersrand Mines, 1902-1955

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This seminal book reveals how black labor was exploited in twentieth-century South Africa, the human costs of which are still largely hidden from history. It was the people of southern Mozambique, bent double beneath the historical loads of forced labor and slavery, then sold off en masse as
contracted laborers, who paid the highest price for South African gold. An iniquitous intercolonial agreement for the exploitation of ultra-cheap black labor was only made possible through nightly use of the steam locomotive on the transnational railway linking Johannesburg and Louren�o Marques.
These night trains left deep scars in the urban and rural cultures of black communities, whether in the form of popular songs or a belief in nocturnal witches' trains that captured and conveyed zombie workers to the region's most unpopular places of employment.

By tracing the journeys undertaken by black migrants, Charles van Onselen powerfully reconstructs how racial thinking, expressed logistically, reflected the evolving systems of segregation and apartheid. On the night trains, the last stop was always hell.

ISBN-13: 9780197568651

Media Type: Hardcover

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

Publication Date: 03-01-2021

Pages: 256

Product Dimensions: 9.30h x 6.40w x 1.20d


Charles van Onselen is an acclaimed historian of Southern Africa and Research Professor at the University of Pretoria. He has been honoured with visiting fellowships at the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford and Yale University.