A photo-essay navigating the identity of Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals who own shops around the Braamfontein area in Johannesburg.
Braamfontein is home to over 20 spaza shops owned by Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals who moved to South Africa to better their lives.
Commonly referred to as “My Friend” by customers and people who interact with them on a daily basis, these business men often find themselves at crossroads where their identity is concerned.
Through the photo essay, individuals were given the chance to reclaim their identity as people with families, feelings and most importantly names too.
Although there is a sense of endearment when locals address them as “my friend” a part of their identity is left out.
Do South Africans really care who they want to be known as?
With a piece of colored paper and a black marker, these men were given the power to represent their identity in a way that they wanted to be represented and understood in society. The narrative moves from the day to day representations focusing on xenophobia and the negative aspects that are tied to their identities, by highlighting that these individuals are more than just “my friend” or a shop owner who is here to steal jobs from South Africans but are contributors to society at large.