The International Alliance of Waste Pickers is a union of waste picker organizations representing more than 460,000 workers across 34 countries
Supported by Logo WIEGO

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Written by Fourth Wall Books


Country South Africa

March 05, 2015

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Fourth Wall Books. 03/05/2015

wake up this is joburg

They’re a familiar sight in Johannesburg—a procession of people, usually men, balaclavas drawn over faces against the cold, hauling mountains of recyclable stuff on homemade trolleys across the suburbs. In the fifth book in the series Wake Up, This is Joburg, writer Tanya Zack and photographer Mark Lewis track several of these survivalists, following them for miles from their homes in the city, to the lucrative dustbins of Parkwood, Melville and Windsor, to the waste depots, and back home. They meet the intrepid Naleli Kgomo and her partner Lebo, and interview the depot cashiers. They head south to the home of the recycling Fourie family and trail other reclaimers to the flats, shacks and makeshift shelters they retreat to after a day of hauling. They scale city dumps to watch men expertly sifting and sorting trash. These families, groups of friends, comrades and solo operators are the informal reclaimers of Johannesburg, tenacious searchers and pickers who turn waste into a living. This life is not for the faint-hearted. It is often hazardous, frequently nauseating but, for many, a more secure and lucrative income than other informal work offers them, allowing them to pay rent, educate their children, and save for better times. In Good Riddance, Zack and Lewis give us more stories about the people whose livelihoods form another important layer of the economic fabric of the city.