The story of Joburg hostels in pictures

Nocebo Bucibo, a Wits master’s student, took the journey to tell the story of hostels in Johannesburg in pictures.

Earlier this month Bucibo exhibited her photographic work of life in hostels at the Workers’ Museum in Newtown, Johannesburg.

More than 100 people from various hostels visited the museum on 3 March 2018 for the opening, happy to see pictures reflecting their life on the wall. And they also had a chance to tour the museum, comparing their current living conditions to those of the past.

Bucibo says her images evoke the physical, psychological and cultural space of South African migrant hostels.

IHostela ngeliny’ikhaya in its true sense has been home to many families that have lived in the hostels in Alexandra’s Madala Hostel, Mshayazafe Hostel, Kwa Mai Mai and many more I visited. The hostels are spaces that accommodated migrant workers who came to the City of Johannesburg to improve their financial status and contribute to the country’s economy

Nocebo Bucibo, Wits master’s student

Bucibo says her journey began while living close to the hostels in the early 90s in Thokoza on the East Rand during the violent conflict between the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the African National Congress (ANC).

These memories drove me to begin visiting hostels in Johannesburg, where I developed personal relationships with people who live there. This photographic exhibition, Ihostela ngeliny’ikhaya: regarding photography as a just image forms part of my practical research for my master’s dissertation a just image: South African hostels and contemporary South African photography

Nocebo Bucibo, Wits master’s student

In my written research, I explored Roland Barthes’s (1980: 70) concept of a ‘just Image’ and its potential function of understanding the notion of memory and personal identity that may be conveyed through photography.

Nocebo Bucibo, Wits master’s student

According to statistics, every month about 3 000 new migrants come into the City of Joburg.

Hostels played and still play a vital role in the housing of city residents, with some of the hostels having been converted into apartments - now the homes to families away from home.


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