Alfred Qabula was a central figure in the cultural movement that emerged among working people in and around Durban in the 1980s. The movement was an innovative attempt to draw on the oral poetry developed among the Nguni people over many centuries. Qabula was a forklift driver in the Dunlop tyre factory in Durban at the time this book was developed. He used the art of telling stories to critique the exploitation of black workers and their oppression under apartheid.
A Working Life, Cruel Beyond Belief is the first book in the Hidden Voices series and is Qabula’s testament, telling the powerful story of his life and work. It also contains a generous selection of his poetry. The Hidden Voices Project emerged out of an interest in intellectual left contributions towards discussions on race, class, ethnicity and nationalism in South Africa. Specifically, the project seeks to examine and make available writings on left thought under apartheid. The aim is to look at hidden voices – voices outside of the university system or academic voices suppressed by apartheid pressures. Before and during the apartheid years, many universities were closed to existing local ideas and debates, and critical intellectual debates, ideas, texts, poetry and songs often originated outside academia during the period of the struggle for liberation.
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