Jim is Tired of Jo’burg
Repeatedly in the recent past, we have heard of a ‘Jim Comes to Jo’Burg’ mythology in the South African context. The author has deconstructed this myth, reversing it into a ‘Jim is Tired of Jo’Burg’ scenario, telling the story through his protagonist, Jim (Kgabalatsana Monare) aka “TM”, who has come to Johannesburg from his rural village of Dinokana in the Western Transvaal in search of ‘gold’. But, as time goes by, he gets sucked into and ultimately gets frustrated by the challenges of city life, to which a rural boy is unaccustomed. He tries to make a living as a miner and makes friends with the Indian tailors in downtown Johannesburg.
He leaves his place of employment on the mine to live in the township of Alexandra – a mass urban slum of the city of ‘gold’ where he commingles with life in a township. He meets his ‘to-be-lifetime lover’ Nancy Mabheka, who falls deeply in love with him – unfortunately for her, for when Kgabalatsana realises that he will not find the ‘gold’ that he came to the city of Johannesburg for, he decides to go back home to his village, leaving her behind. Nancy then follows him to a life that is enigmatic to her.
Reminiscent of Peter Abrahams’ Mine Boy, Jim is Tired of Jo’Burg exposes the reader to the challenges of urban and rural life in the South Africa of the time. Through pathos, joviality, the author takes us down the memory lane of life in the townships of South Africa in the 60s and 70s, and the choice that its people had to take –
to be an urbanite or ruralite.
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