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SCULPTURE FINALIST 2016/THAMSANQA TONGA

The focus of my investigation is on migrant labourers...

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The focus of my investigation is on migrant labourers who work in South Africa’s gold mines.

The title of the artwork, "Unyawo aluna mpumlo", is an old Xhosa saying that directly translates as “The foot does not have a nose". This saying means that the foot cannot smell its destination.

I am interrogating the theme of migrant labour and the transformations endured by the workers during their relocation. There are many complicated issues that have to be considered when it comes to migrant labourers. The struggle does not end with the relocated worker but extends to their immediate families, who have to survive without a member of the family,¬ in most cases, a man.

My interest comes from my experience as the son of a migrant labourer, growing up in the mining town of Klerksdorp in the North-West province and surrounding areas within the Free State province. My artwork juxtaposes objects and the metaphorical meaning that they carry.

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