Original Research

Dangerous, frightening, homely: Home experiences of those living on the goldmines of the Far West Rand

Sulevi Riukulehto
New Contree | Vol 89 | a237 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.54146/newcontree/2022/89/06 | © 2023 Sulevi Riukulehto | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 March 2023 | Published: 30 December 2022

About the author(s)

Sulevi Riukulehto, University of Helsinki, Finland

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Abstract

This article provides an outlook on the darker side of people’s home experiences, as described by the inhabitants of Merafong, a township located on the Far West Rand, South Africa, where goldmining companies have had an immense impact on the region for more than a century. The mining industry has extended its influence everywhere, framing and re-forming the area, and in so doing, the perceptions of home and homeliness have changed radically. When the people of the Far West Rand describe the meaningful features of their home region they do not hesitate to talk about its negative side. They speak of illegal immigrants, drugs, criminality, arson, kidnapping, and sexual violence. They talk about dangers that lurk in the natural environment, such as sinkholes and the pollution of water and soil. Furthermore, they talk of the problems inherent in the political system, of illiteracy, corruption, inefficiency, and the long shadow of colonialism. They also speak at length about their experience of danger and fear. The Far West Rand, exemplified by Merafong, is by no means pictured as being perfect. In many aspects it is unpleasant, ugly, and even dangerous. But nevertheless, it is home. The data presented here was collected in the period 17–20 November 2015. The method followed and discussions held are examined below. These were followed by two written assignments. The six data collection sessions were attended by a total of 31 participants.

Keywords

Homeliness; Sense of home; Experiential theory of home: Mining enterprises; Sinkholes; Fires; Tailings dams; Corruption; Environmental destructions

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