Life In Johannesburg

Seko, Sleeps amongst gifts and supplies on route to Malawi,Wineloop Flats

 

Photographer Marc Shoul is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. From his project ‘Flatlands‘.  To see Marc’s work click on any image.  

 

Tony's Cafe, Saunders Street, Yeoville

Tony’s Cafe, Saunders Street, Yeoville

 

Taxi Accident, corner Rissik and Wolmarans Street, Braamfontein

Taxi Accident, corner Rissik and Wolmarans Street, Braamfontein

 

So many people who have moved here have come as refugees, searching for ‘gold’ in one form or another. So for over a century now, Johannesburg has been a beacon for people from all over the world, offering the promise of a better life.

 

Theo and Ben, Brisson Fashions, Braamfontein

Theo and Ben, Brisson Fashions, Braamfontein

 

The inner city comprises a densely populated landscape, filled with high-rise office buildings and apartments. Accommodation is cheap, catering for the waves of immigrants who move through these Flatlands. The formerly mainly white population has dwindled to a sprinkling and the inner city has, instead, become a hub for the entire sub-continent. Life in many parts of the Flatlands is difficult. In some blocks, ten or more tenants live in tiny partitions of once-larger flats, filling each room with their possessions. Lifts are often broken and buildings are in need of repair. Security guards are stationed outside buildings that house other security guards.

 

Masks, Sonskyn Flats, Hadfield Road, Hillbrow,

Masks, Sonskyn Flats, Hadfield Road, Hillbrow

 

Hanson And Derrick, Geores Boxing Club, Hillbrow, 2005

Hanson And Derrick, Geores Boxing Club, Hillbrow

 

Laurence and Kobus, Actors on set of "We Were Black", Marshalltown,

Laurence and Kobus, Actors on set of “We Were Black”, Marshalltown

 

But Johannesburg has an infectious momentum and relentless energy and drive. It’s the excitement that overpowers the fear. Streams of people walk the streets. Children go to school, taxi hooters echo off the buildings as they race to beat the amber light. Outside shops, MC’s call to customers through microphones, mixed to a distorted house music beat. Streets are congested with cars and people. Shops sell anything and everything. There are beggars, street performers, shoppers, traders, bars, clubs and churches, as there are in any other urban space. Kids bunk school and go to the movies. Schools and crèches open up in high rise buildings, next door to hair salons and Sangomas (traditional healers). Bars are open all day and night. Churches are full of hands in the air.

Everyone is watching their back but going forward.

 

Microwave Pedestrian, Coner Nugget and Wolmarans Street, Hillbrow

Microwave Pedestrian, Coner Nugget and Wolmarans Street, Hillbrow

 

Shoul wanted to document this new era of the Flatlands in post-Apartheid times. This huge mix of people and culture squeezed so tightly together in a place barely able to contain it all. This is an area that was once compared to the great modern cities of the first world. Now it has taken on a significantly different character; it is a space of transience, a place on the way to something better, be it in South Africa or back at home. He wanted to see how people are making their own way through this amazing matrix of crumbling buildings, while still holding onto the promise of a better future.

 

Brenda, "The Mexican Sports Bar", Hillbrow

Brenda, “The Mexican Sports Bar”, Hillbrow

 

Angelique, "Mexican Sports Bar", Hillbrow

Angelique, “Mexican Sports Bar”, Hillbrow

Johannesburg, 2005-2007

 

See also:

Colonies D’Afrique – Marseille

By Marc Shoul

 


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