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Title:'Faction Fights' or 'Fixed Bayonets' against Sticks and Stones? Basotho Migrants and Violence on the Mines, 1886-1939
Author:Maloka, Tshidiso
Periodical:Afrika Zamani: revue annuelle d'histoire africaine = Annual Journal of African History (ISSN 0850-3079)
Notes:biblio. refs.
Geographic terms:South Africa
Southern Africa
Subjects:ethnic relations
social conflicts
Labor and Employment
Ethnic and Race Relations
History and Exploration
Urbanization and Migration
History, Archaeology
ethnic conflicts
Migrant labor
Sotho (African people)
Abstract:Ethnic violence or 'faction fights' on the Witwatersrand mines, South Africa, was common as early as 1889, and continued into the 1970s and early 1980s. Without denying the ethnic origins of many of the 'faction fights', the present author argues that relations among African workers in the compounds were more complex than is often assumed, and ethnicity was not the only serious source of conflict. Many 'faction fights' were influenced by the working and living conditions of the workers, and disputes around wages. Tensions were linked to local conditions, such as differences in treatment and the distribution of favours by management, and the numerical balance and strength of ethnic groups in the compounds. The author looks specifically at the case of Sotho migrant workers and the 'faction fights' that took place at the Premier Diamond Mine (situated 40 km east of Pretoria) in September 1907, May 1910 and November 1913. For most of the period under review the Premier Diamond Mine was the largest single employer of Sotho on the Witwatersrand and it was here that the first serious 'faction fight' that included Sotho took place in 1907. Characteristic for all three 'faction fights' were the active role of the police, the arming of white miners and the regular and loose use of rifles in dealing with 'rioters', concern with confining the 'disturbance' to the mine, and the use of 'faction fight' as an alibi to avoid addressing workers' grievances. Notes, ref.