Postcards from Xolobeni
Xolobeni is a cluster of rural communities on the Eastern Coast of South Africa. Tourists know the area as "The Wild Coast" because of it's beautiful and rugged coastline. The people of Xolobeni are mostly self-sufficient; living off the land and fishing in the sea, and often only travelling the 2 hours to the closest shops once a month to buy sugar, oil and other basic provisions.
The Xolobeni community has been fighting against proposed titanium dune mining for nearly 20 years. The mineral rich sand of the Wild Coast is seen as an opportunity for international mining companies to profit, with only the resistance of local residents standing in their way. They stand to lose everything; should mining proceed it will displace hundreds of people from their ancestral land, cut off their access to the sea, pollute surrounding villages, grazing lands and water sources, and destroy grassland, estuarine and marine ecosystems. It will also necessitate the relocation of ancestral graves, and in this way sever the Amadiba people from their cultural roots.
For more than a decade, Australia’s Mineral Resources Limited has persisted in seeking to scoop 22 x 1.5 km of dunes from Xolobeni’s coast, ignoring repeated rejections from the community. Despite claims that they have divested from the Xolobeni Mining Project, MRC's 2017 annual report indicates that the company continues to hold 56% shares in the project through its South African subsidiary Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources(TEM). TEM's application for a mining licence has only been halted because of an 18 month ministerial moratorium, imposed following the assassination of Bazooka Radebe. The application is likely to resume when the moratorium expires.
On the 23rd April 2018 the Amadiba Crisis Committee is taking the Department of Mineral Resources to court. They are requesting that the court rules that no license to mine the area can be granted without the community's consent.
“Postcards from Xolobeni” gives a voice to a rural community at risk of being destroyed for corporate profit. Support them to ensure that their voice is heard. Read the press statement about the court case here.
This project was kindly funded by the South African Development Fund.
The writing of these postcards was facilitated by the photographer and two members of the community. In the event that the subject could not write, the postcard was dictated to, and written by the photographer or a member of the family or wider community. Quotes have been corrected in the captions where necessary.