Wake Up, This Is Joburg is a brand new series of ten books celebrating the raw beauty of the city of gold. Written by urban planner Tanya Zack and photographed by Mark Lewis, this series showcases Joburg dwellers and their unique and remarkable ways of making a living, and a life. Some of them are fresh meat in Joburg, and others grew up there, but all of them have found truly intriguing ways of inhabiting this urban jungle. In harsh social, political and economical circumstances these individuals chose to stick around in the city that everyone loves to hate, which is exactly what Wake up, this is Joburg hopes to capture – that thing you can’t quite put a finger on when telling people why you love this city. The series will be released in a sequence throughout the rest of the year and next, with the first four books already finished.
S’kop, Book 1 of 10, tells the story of entrepreneurship and survival in the underground meat market, where a thriving commercial network of meat dealers operate. In this book the butchers, traders and entrepreneurs speak of the hardships of their work and the occasional rewards of making it on their own. It’s a story not just about an interesting and tough line of work, but about business connections and how to get things done, how to operate below the radar and how to make things work against fairly tough odds.
Tony Dreams in Blue and Yellow, Book 2 of 10, exhibits the impressive house of Tony and his wife Orlinda in the nondescript working class suburb of Turffontein. Tony is an obsessive collector of what some might call ‘waste’. He’s also a successful entrepreneur whose property is home to 17 rentpaying households. Tony has spent most of his life transforming this 500- square metre patch of urban soil into a veritable castle of lights, turrets, murals, manikins and stairways, and this book celebrates his work.
Inside Out, Book 3 of 10, gives a glimpse into the life of Senga Mutombo. She’s appears to be just a regular foreign trader at the Yeoville market, but she is also at the centre of a trade network that spans sub-Saharan Africa in a web of low-end globalisation. While her daily life is one of unending labour, Senga’s microscale business plays a large role in Joburg’s economy.
Faraday Overflow, Book 4 of 10, shows how the entrepeneurs in Joburg have managed to turn a leftover piece of urban land under the Mooi Street off-ramp into a bustling business centre – a taxi rank. Here small-scale entrepreneurs cater to the needs of drivers and passengers. They sell anything from food and snacks, to socks, window wipers, mobile phone attachments and bumper stickers. There are tyre changers, mechanics and some businessmen (and businesswomen) even blowtorch thimblefuls of gold extracted from the adjacent mine dump.
The series launches on 7 June 2014, but you can pre-order Book 1 here.
Find Fourthwall Books on Facebook to stay up to date with the launch details.