What's the Story Behind Humans of Johannesburg?


Launched in 2010, Humans of New York is an internationally-recognized photography blog, showcasing everyday people in the streets of New York. It's no surprise that there have been numerous off-shots of this respected photo journal. From Malawi to India and Sao Paulo to Accra, there are similar "Humans of" accounts on social media highlighting the stories of diverse people.

Our MAPP Africa Ambassador, Karen Mwendera, operates the Humans of Johannesburg Facebook page. We sat down with her to learn about hear experience talking to people on the streets of Jo-burg.

When did you start the Humans of Jo-burg page?

I joined the page in January 2012. At that time it was headed by Stephen Simm. He and I were the only admins of the page. Once I started Steph had left and I promoted and contributed content for the page till now. It has been an amazing journey. Seeing the page grow from about 150 likes to approximately 2,300 now.

Why did you start the Humans of Jo-burg?

I actually wanted to start my own Humans of Johannesburg back in 2012 when word about Humans of New York blew up on Facebook. The concept intrigued and inspired me. It was exactly the kind of story telling I wanted to be involved with, however in the African society. So I did my research and found many pages devoted to showing stories of Humans in the different societies and I thought why not do one right here where I am, with the resources I had. And thus I emailed the page already set up by Steph and he immediately accepted my request and added me on the page :)

How many people have you spoken to?

Wow, how people I have spoken to? I can't really count. There have been quite a number. What I love about the platform is that it allows me to reach out to many different individuals and being able to showcase their story. Some peoples' stories get posted some not.

Are people always willing to share their story?

Well majority of those that I have approached are. There are quite a few that want their stories not published either because what they are doing or what they want to say may be illegal or they just prefer to keep their lives private. One of the major reasons is because some people get shy. But once you get to talking and chatting with them more, they begin to open up.

What major thing have you learned from talking to people on the streets?

One thing I've learnt is to never underestimate who an individual is and the stories behind them. We take for granted the many connections we make on a daily basis, almost failing to appreciate the person who smiles at you on the street, asks you for some spare change, or even the one who asks for directions. Humans are phenomenal and being able to tap into their heart and soul is one of the most beautiful aspects of Gods creation.

Be sure to 'like' the Humans of Johannesburg page and read up on the interesting stories from different individuals:




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