Jim comes to Jo'burg

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This phrase can be a reference to a 1949 South African film, and to a South African expression and literary theme.

The film

A film by this name was made by Eric Rutherford (producer) and Donald Swanson (Director) in 1949. (It was originally released under the title African Jim)

For film details see African Jim (1949)

As a South African expression and literary theme

The name of this 1949 film came to be used as a (slightly denigrating) reference to a recurring theme in South African novels, plays and films dealing with the black experience. While it derives from the film of that name , it has its most compelling example in the canonical novel Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton (which itself has seen three film versions made, plus a number of dramatized versions, over much of the 20th century).

In brief it follows the experiences (usually negative) of a rural character who comes to the city, and often deals with the tension between rural and urban life, customs and mores.

In theatre it is a constant and recurring theme, from the early works of H.I.E. Dhlomo and others, to the musicals of the sixties and even the protest theatre of the 1970’s and 1980’s. It is of course a specific example of the more general theme of urbanization, which is equally prominent in white South African writing, and especially Afrikaans writing. (See for example the famous novels about a character named Ampie by Jochem van Bruggen, which were also dramatized.)


See also http://esaach.org.za/index.php?title=Jim-comes-to-Joburg

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