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Life on the Edge of the South African Dream

Homelands by Pieter de Vos (Daylight, June 2019) explores daily life in South Africa through the experiences of Donald Banda, a resident of an informal settlement called Woodlane Village. Located amidst a wealthy suburb in Pretoria, South Africa’s capital city, the residents of Woodlane Village carve out a living in the shadows of high-end shopping malls, a mega-church, one of South Africa’s most expensive golf estates, gated communities, and a private hospital. Homelands looks at how people experience home and belonging in a society built on exclusion.

The term “informal settlement” means one shack or more constructed on land, without the consent of the owner of the land. People started occupying the vacant land that would become known as Woodlane Village in 2004. Today it comprises over 800 households representing around 3,000 people from Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, and provinces in South Africa.

Most of those living in Woodlane Village are political and economic migrants. “The village is emblematic of many of the pressures South Africa is experiencing around land, migration, housing, the polarization of classes and the entrenchment of an economic form of segregation,” writes Daylight in the press release.

De Vos’s images of Donald speak of ordinary activities, of people seeking to make a life, to make a place, and to make a home. “Donald’s story is the beating heart of this book,” writes de Vos, a book that provides an intimate view of South Africa 25 years after apartheid.

By Pieter de Vos
Daylight Books

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