22 February 2021 | Story Thabo Kessah | Photo Thabo Kessah
Prof Rodwell Makombe’s literary research focuses on a Facebook page that ‘reconstructs home away from home’.

Home is a complex concept, as it is not a physical place. This is according to Prof Rodwell Makombe’s recently published research article titled, Online images and imaginings of home: The case of Qwaqwa Thaba Di Mahlwa Facebook page

“The article looks at how migrants from Qwaqwa, now living in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and elsewhere, imagine Qwaqwa as home. Because they spend a lot of time away from home, they always have a longing and a sense of loneliness, as they live in places that are not home. They also have to find ways of reminiscing about their homeland. This study is about how they reconstruct home away from home. There are two approaches towards the idea of home. Firstly, home can be conceptualised as a familiar place and a place of origin that offers stability. Secondly, home is within them and they carry it with them wherever they go,” said Prof Makombe. 

‘Qwaqwa Thaba Di Mahlwa’  

The study focused on a Facebook page created by Qwaqwa migrants, called ‘Qwaqwa thaba Di Mahlwa’. “We looked at the images that were posted on this page and how they seek to construct Qwaqwa as a home. When a person posts a picture from Qwaqwa, everyone from Qwaqwa associates with the picture and are reminded of certain things from home. Migrants make homes out of this Facebook page and the page becomes a place where all can rally together and construct their home,” he added. 

The study is part of a broader book project titled Visual Cultures of the Afromontane, funded by the Afromontane Research Unit. 

Prof Makombe is an Associate Professor in the Department of English on the Qwaqwa Campus. His areas of research include cultural studies, postcolonial literatures, and cultures of resistance. The article was co-written with Dr Oliver Nyambi.  



LISTEN: Prof Rodwell Makombe on Qwaqwa migrants and their connection to home

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