Roelof Bezuidenhout Interviews Michael de Jongh, Author of Roots and Routes
Michael de Jongh, author of Roots and Routes: Karretjie People of the Great Karoo was interviewed by Roelof Bezuidenhout for a recent edition of Farmer’s Weekly. In the interview, de Jongh discusses how his interest in the Karretjie people, who he refers to as the “gypsies of South Africa”, first developed:
When and why did you become interested in studying the Karretjie People?
In 1990 I was driving through the back roads of the Karoo with a colleague from the US when we spotted a family travelling in a donkey cart. Asked who they were, I could only guess – wrongly as it turned out – that they were farm workers on their way home from a nearby town. During sabbatical leave the following year I explored the Karoo, finding many such families travelling in their donkey carts. They favoured the deserted, dusty side roads and camped in makeshift shelters at outspans.
I discovered a little known but fascinating way of life that had me closely involved with the Karretjie People for two decades. My area of interest has long been in human mobility and urbanisation. I have worked with migrant labour groups, war refugees in Mozambique and the Tsigane gypsies in Switzerland. The gypsies of South Africa are the the Karretjie People of the Karoo.
- Roots and Routes: Karretjie People of the Great Karoo: The Marginalisation of a South African First People by Michael de Jongh