“GOLD AND WORKERS” tells the other side of the story

“Gold and Workers” by Luli Callinicos

“Gold and Workers” is a history book. It tells the story of the Transvaal goldfields from the years 1886 to 1924. But “Gold and Workers” is different from most other history books.

Most history books only tell us about famous people. They tell us about the government and the bosses.

“Gold and Workers” tells us about ordinary people. The book tells us about the workers.

“Gold and Workers” tells the story of a struggle. This is the struggle that the workers fought against the government and the bosses. The workers fought this battle because the work was hard and dangerous. They only got a little money for doing this work.

“Gold and Workers” shows us that people’s lives changed after gold was found. The owners of the gold mines needed people to dig in the mines. The mine-owners tried to force the black farmers to do this work. The black farmers did not want to work in the mines. They grew all their own food. They did not need money from working on the mines.

Then the bosses together with the government made it hard for people to stay on their farms.

The government said that the black farmers must pay tax. The black farmers then had to work in the mines to pay taxes. This is the way that the government helped the mine owners.

Often people in the government were also mine owners. Cecil John Rhodes was the Prime Minister of the Cape Colony. He also owned many mines.

The workers found work in the mines heavy. The work was hard and dangerous. The miners did not like the places where they lived. These places were called compounds. The compounds were small and crowded. The compounds had fences. The workers were often locked in.

The miners protested about the work. They also protested about the pass laws. These laws made it hard for men to move around. They also did not like contracts. The contracts said that they had to stay on one mine for a time. The contract made it hard to find better work.

You can buy “Gold and Workers” at most bookshops. It costs R4.50 plus GST.
There are many pictures in “Gold and Workers”. Here are some of these pictures.

[Photo will feature soon] This is the way that black people lived before gold was found. They grew their own food and made their own goods.

[Photo will feature soon] This is the picture of the inside of a gold mine. Gold changed the lives of the people. After gold, many black people didn’t grow their own food anymore. They had to work for a wage.

[Photo will feature soon] This is a picture of people coming to find work in the mines. They have come to the mines because they need money to pay taxes. And they have come to the mines because there is not enough land for them. White people had taken over most of the land. In 1913 the Government made a law called the Land Act. The Land Act did not allow black people to farm in most parts of South Africa. So black people needed to find work on the mines. The men in the picture have left their families behind. The families of the miners were not allowed to come to the mines.

[Photo will feature soon] This is a picture of a room in a compound. The compounds were crowded, dirty and unhealthy.

[Photo will feature soon] This is a picture of a pass arrest. Many workers were unhappy on the mines. They wanted to leave. Some workers ran away. The mine bosses were angry. The government helped the mine bosses stop the workers from running away. They made strict pass laws. This stopped the workers from moving around. The police arrested workers when they left the compound.

[Photo will feature soon] Many black mine workers joined a union called the union of Industrial Workers of Africa (IWA). The IWA was the first black trade union in South Africa. Here is a picture of an IWA meeting at Newtown, Johannesburg.

[Photo will feature soon] In 1920 the IWA helped to organise a very big strike. 71 000 black mine workers went on strike. That was the biggest strike in the history of South Africa.

* This page is under construction, but noting that our overall objective is to provide resources, we are pleased to link you with this book, available here.

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