Black Gold

Wednesday 17 May, 18:00 – 20:00, Online

LMN is delighted to announce our third Resisting Mining Book Club 2023, a special edition to honour the life, work, and legacy of Ruth First by discussing her book Black Gold: The Mozambican Miner, Proletarian and Peasant (Harvester Press, 1983). We will be joined by leading South African academic Dr. Asanda Benya. 

About the book: 

Ruth First was a South African anti-apartheid activist, journalist and scholar, born in 1925 and brought up in Johannesburg. As editor of political journal Fighting Talk and a member of the Communist Party and ANC, First exposed the racial segregation policies of apartheid from mineworkers’ strikes to bus boycotts. She was one of the defendants in the Treason Trial alongside 156 other leading anti-apartheid activists and she was listed and banned after the Sharpeville Massacre from attending meetings, publishing, or even being quoted. During government crackdowns in 1963, she was imprisoned and held in isolation without charge for 117 days, the title of her memoir, as the first white woman to be detained under the Ninety-Day Detention Law. A year later, First went into exile in London where she became active in the British Anti-Apartheid Movement. In 1978, First took up the post of director of research at the Centre of African Studies at the University Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo, Mozambique, where she worked on her final book, Black Gold, which was published a year after she opened the parcel bomb, sent to the university by the South African police, that tragically ended her life. 

Black Gold investigates the lives and experiences of Mozambican migrant labourers in South African gold mines and the rural economies they are drawn from and oscillate between. Throughout this lived history, migrant labour is positioned as a permanent and indispensable necessity to the accumulation of South African and global capital through industrial resource extraction. 

Asanda Benya will give an introductory lecture which will be followed by a Q&A. You do not need to have read the book to attend this meeting. All registered participants in the Book Club will be sent a PDF version or excerpts from the book via email. 

About the discussant:

Asanda Benya is a sociologist and ethnographer based at the University of Cape Town in South Africa where she teaches around labour, gender and race. Her research is at the intersection of gender, class and race, working specifically around critical labour & work studies and black feminist thought. Her main research project has been an ethnographic study of women underground miners in South Africa’s platinum mines, looking at the construction of gendered subjectivities in underground mining. Her current project looks at the diverse ways in women’s lives and livelihoods around sites of extraction across Southern Africa are affected by mines/mining.