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Since the end of apartheid, 3 million black South Africans are estimated to have joined the Middle Classes. Until recently the middle class had been mainly white, but demographics have rapidly changed this ; along with many other things in this country.

« For us black South Africans, there is no such thing as middle or upper class, but we are definitely different from the people we grew up with ». For this black population that grew up in the townships and who moved out thanks to upward social mobility, and more particularly the Black Economic Empowerment, finding their mark is no easy feat.

In Johannesburg, urban geography is vital for creating new markers : districts and communities are still slightly mixed, and living here, shopping there and going out to have fun elsewhere provides meaning, categorises and identifies.

This is the reason I chose to carry out a photographic road trip, following the footsteps of this middle class black population from Jo’burg.

From the townships of their childhood that they often go back to at weekends (or that they want to forget at all costs), towards the large, new suburban estates built for them and accessible thanks to easy credit ; and for the lucky ones, on towards wealthy districts that are still mainly white, « Relationships here are transactional, more than anything », as one of them said to me.

My common thread, my GPS, my compass on this trip is, of course, their diet : the places they shop, consume, family food shopping, junk food wolfed down in cars before going back to work, or sausages eaten at the end of a long night dancing.

 

Produced with Sophie Bouillon for the text : on assignment for COLLATERAL CREATIONS as part of the « Africa, food for thought » project.

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