Seroke General Dealer. Reed Holler, North West Province. South Africa.
Early morning. July 2012.
Reed Holler has some half-dozen general stores like this one. They stock an astonishing array of items, given their small size: basic groceries like eggs, maize meal, milk, bread, and vegetables; gum, biscuits, soft drinks, and other goodies; electricity and cell-phone airtime for pay-as-you-go plans; even blank CDs. Most of Reed Holler’s shops are owned by Bengali immigrants, but this shop is owned by two friendly Ethiopian brothers. Shebeens, or unlicensed taverns, lie adjacent to most shops. This early on Sunday morning they are empty, but during the afternoon they become gathering places. Here, old men drink and play board games with old beer bottle caps while young men dice for one- and two-Rand coins. Children, too, gather here, to buy sweets and play, distracted from their errand of buying bread for their families.