The magazine of the art-form of the photo-essay
Apr 2016 back issue
The Two Worlds of Reymond Mapakata
by Sam Wolson
A free, really high quality photo-essay magazine.  Fabulous! Stephen Fry. British actor, writer and film & documentary maker
Struggling to support his family in Bikita, a village in Zimbabwe's Southeast, Reymond Mapakata illegally immigrated to Johannesburg in 2007 in search of "greener pastures." There, he has experienced xenophobic violence and has been arrested five times due to his illegal status. Despite his trips back to Zimbabwe with money he earned in South Africa, his family struggles to survive. Nevertheless, after each trip to Zimbabwe, Reymond returns to South Africa in search of work and the hope of a brighter future. These images chronicle Reymond's journey from his home town of Bikita to the Central Methodist Church in downtown Johannesburg, a large indoor refugee camp.
The two worlds of Reymond Mapakata: on the roof of the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg (left) and in his home village, Bikita, Zimbabwe.
Bikita, located in the Southern part of Zimbabwe.
Mapakata prepares a goat for dinner with another man from the village and his kids.
Mapakata comes from an area known as Bikita located in the Southern part of Zimbabwe. Mapakata's parents passed away when he was young, and he became the head man of his village. Today, the village does not provide sufficient resources for him and his family. Mapakata struggled to find employment in Zimbabwe which is still recovering from the second-highest hyperinflation in world history.
Mapakata (left) teaches his son to use a cellphone. Although lacking other major resources, such as irrigation, and prevalent clean water sources outside the local school grounds, Bikita recently obtained a cellphone tower.
Mapakata in his village.
Mapakata's kids walk to their hut.
A camp fire illuminates chairs.
Not able to find employment in Zimbabwe, Mapakata migrated to South Africa in search "greener pastures" and a way íto support his family who stayed in Bikita.
In his old home, now abandoned, Mapakata stands in front of a Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party cloth, given out for free during election time. He believes in a future in Zimbabwe, but only when Mugabe is gone.
Mapakata made the illegal journey to Johannesburg.
Mapakata in the Central Methodist Church in the inner city of Johannesburg.
The Central Methodist Church in the inner city of Johannesburg, a church turned refugee haven after the xenophobic attacks of 2008 houses close to 2000 homeless refugees each night who occupy every floor space available. Mapakata has made this his home while he tries to find steady work.
Some parts of the church are set aside for individuals with HIV or other health problems.
After nearly 6 years in Johannesburg, Mapakata has struggled to find steady work and food. Despite his hardships in the city, from being beaten by the police, and various confrontations with xenophobic violence, Mapakata maintains that this city holds a brighter future for him than Zimbabwe.
Back to menu
Back to current issue