O'Sullivan Road

07.07.11 Jabu Tom

with 4 comments

Jabu Tom moved to South Africa from Zimbabwe in 2007. He’s an artist who specializes in metal sculpture. During the summer months he sells his work, which largely depicts animals, on the corner of Camp Street in Cape Town. When I met him, I thought the heart of his story would revolve around a young Zimbabwean artist who needed to escape his country because of political strife and personal safety. Yet Jabu left his home primarily because he believed he could make more money for himself and his family outside of Zimbabwe. Of course, politics and economics are always intertwined. I quickly learned the strife in Jabu’s thirty years of life has occurred chiefly in the past four years, rather than in Zimbabwe, South Africa’s depleted neighbor to the north. The narrow border between Zimbabwe and South Africa has been crossed by an estimated 1.5 million Zimbabweans. The number of Zimbabweans residing  in South Africa, legally and illegally, has been the source of great turmoil. Xenophobia within particular communities is rampant. Jabu lives in the township of Langa. Established in 1923, it is the oldest township in Cape Town and was the site of large scale resistance to apartheid. In fear of assault, Jabu chooses not to go outside after 8pm on most nights. As a Zimbabwean he is a target of crime in the streets surrounding his rented home. At the moment, his main goal is to save enough money so he can go back to Zimbabwe and join his parents and three brothers.


Written by Sarah Stacke

July 7, 2011 at 9:40 am

4 Responses

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  1. Somehow the TV with a hint of window illustrates the story so poignantly. Love it.


    July 7, 2011 at 12:12 pm

  2. Most interesting story. Keep us updated. Does his art reflect the turmoil in his life?


    Bob Stacke

    July 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm

  3. Great context. Love the photos!



    July 9, 2011 at 1:38 am

  4. Thanks for the nice words. I hope to see Jabu again soon.

    Sarah Stacke

    July 14, 2011 at 6:06 am

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