image and text by
Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin
Under the Pass Laws, non-whites needed official permission to work anywhere but their native area. Mining companies encouraged rural workers to come to the city; but made them leave their families at home. Single sex barracks, like Jeppe Street hostel in Johannesburg, were built to house the workers. Mr. Ndawo is the event organizer of Jeppe Street Hostel’s Abo Swanker, where Dingane Zulu, pictured right, will appear in his Sunday best.
Every Saturday night we host an Abo Swanker. Do you know what that is? It’s a fashion parade that takes place in the basement of the Jeppe Street hostel. The contestants are from mines all over the country. The shoes, the jackets, the hats, this is what you will see. Some men spend a month’s salary on their clothes. This thing has been happening for so long I don’t even know when it started. But things are changing now that there is democracy: Little things. Sometimes we even see whites down here in our basement.