Tracks - African Cities Reader

Santu Mofokeng. 'Supplication, Johannesburg - Soweto Line' 1986

Santu Mofokeng. 'Supplication, Johannesburg - Soweto Line' 1986

The train –igado, isithimela – a means of transport that has become a stand-in for the distances between peoples, the construction of segregation and a mode of economic repression. Somewhere between station and tracks, departure point and destination are the memories and futures of ordinary lives. Spanning the paradoxical gap between Johannesburg city and its neighbour Soweto, run two railway routes made purely for transporting mass labour – a necessity to apartheid planning and ensuring cheap access and continued apartness. Today, the same routes exist, still unable to reach many of the further corners of Soweto, still maintaining a system of labour for the majority and mass capital accumulation for the minority.

But some things have changed and the ways in which the public are able to engage, challenge and occupy their spaces have taken on new forms. Cognisant of this, we met with the photographer Santu Mofokeng to establish the point of crossroads, where things are in motion and where things remain still....