The Story of One Tells the Struggle of All: Metalworkers under Apartheid by Mandlenkosi Makhoba and Petrus Tom Mandlenkosi Makhoba tells the story of the struggles of metalworkers in the hostels and factories on the East Rand (now Ekurhuleni). Petrus Tom tells the story of his life and work in the Vaal Triangle, first as a metalworker in a cable factory and later as a full-time union organiser. Both of these men tell the story of what it was like to be a union member in the days when apartheid was being challenged, and worker power was being forged in militant struggles.
Their stories shed light on the struggles of workers everywhere in South Africa for better working conditions and a better life. Through the eyes of these two men, we see the shop-floor struggles of workers for rights and dignity. We see the horror of the Sharpeville killings, the repression of the 1960s, and the resurgence of unions in the 1970s and 1980s. These stories were first published in the mid-1980s, and they contribute to the tale of South Africa’s rich political and cultural history. They are republished now in the belief that we still have a great deal to learn from the worker struggles of the 1980s.
“Now the time has come for us, the working class, to take a stand and write our own stories about our experiences in life.” – Petrus Tom
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The Hidden Voices Project emerged out of an interest in left intellectual contributions towards discussions on race, class, ethnicity and nationalism in South Africa. 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. The Hidden Voices Series seeks to publish key texts, books, documents and other materials that were never published under apartheid, or seminal books that have gone out of print. We hope that these recovered, lost or forgotten voices will help reinvigorate the humanities and social sciences, and contribute to the decolonisation of knowledge production in South Africa and indeed throughout Africa.