“Part investigative report, part oral history, part polemical pamphlet, Marikana illustrates what can be achieved when academics work closely with activists.”
Alex Lichtenstein, Los Angeles Review of Books
“Written by both academics and political activists, the book captured my interest from the first page…The raw data provided by the book makes it not only recommendable for labor scholars and African studies, but also a thrilling read for social movement activists. Marikana leaves room for more inquiries, which should contribute to conceptual debates.”
Esther Uzar, African Studies Quarterly
“Reading this accessibly written title is essential to anyone wishing to understand what happened in the South African platinum belt in the winter of 2012…. A monumental work, of which the first and not least merit is to have demonstrated with journalistic timeliness how much the sociological gaze—an embedded sociology here—may even shortly after the event bring so much to our understanding of it.”
“Last year, in South Africa, miners were preyed upon and hunted like dogs for merely questioning the bad treatment that they received…. I read and wept. Why didn’t I know about this? Why didn’t you know more about this?”
The Marikana Massacre of August 16, 2012, was the single most lethal use of force by South African security forces against civilians since the end of apartheid. Those killed were mineworkers in support of a pay raise. Through a series of interviews conducted with workers who survived the attack, this account documents and examines the controversial shootings in great detail, beginning with a valuable history of the events leading up to the killing of workers, and including eyewitness accounts of the violence and interviews with family members of those who perished.
While the official Farlam Commission investigation of the massacre is still ongoing, many South Africans do not hold much confidence in the government’s ability to examine its own complicity in these events. Marikana, on the other hand, examines the various roles played by the African National Congress, the mine company, and the National Union of Mineworkers in creating the conditions that led to the massacre. While the commission’s investigations take place in a courtroom setting tilted toward those in power, Marikana documents testimony from the mineworkers in the days before official statements were even gathered, offering an unusually immediate and unfiltered look at the reality from the perspective of those most directly affected. Enhanced by vivid maps that make clear the setting and situation of the events, Marikana is an invaluable work of history, journalism, sociology, and activism.
Peter Alexander is the South African Research Chair in Social Change and a professor of sociology at the University of Johannesburg. More info →
Thapelo Lekgowa is a freelance research fieldworker, part-time journalist, political activist, and member of the Marikana Support Committee. More info →
Botsang Mmope is an herbal healer associated with Green World Africa. He is an active member of the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee. More info →
Luke Sinwell is a senior researcher with the Research Chair in Social Change at the University of Johannesburg. More info →
Bongani Xezwi is a freelance research fieldworker and an organizer of the Landless People’s Movement and the Right to Know Campaign in South Africa. More info →
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From the beginning of the Industrial Age and continuing into the twenty-first century, companies faced with militant workers and organizers have often turned to agencies that specialized in ending strikes and breaking unions. Although their secretive nature has made it difficult to fully explore the history of this industry, From Blackjacks to Briefcases does just that.By
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