Senga Mutombo led her seven Congolese brothers to Johannesburg. She is now a regular trader in the Yeoville market but also, in her own way, the centre of a trade network that spans sub-Saharan Africa in a lattice of low-end globalisation. Creams, oils, beans, fish and spices trickle through this network everyday, carried across borders in trucks or in bags on the backs of traders, to serve the needs of a migrant arrival city. Senga’s micro-scale business is embedded in deep international trajectories in the city, but her daily life is one of unending labour and of being forever reminded of her status as an asylum seeker.
In Inside Out, writer and urban planner Tanya Zack and photographer Mark Lewis trace a story of low-end globalisation—of food and other commodities traded and retailed informally across South Africa’s borders by people using the same principles as multinationals, but with no formal credit or banking facilities. They also discover the stories of entrepreneurs like Senga Mutombo.