Saturday, May 1, 2010

Khartoum rag-and-bone man

Achmed shows the old bread toaster while the rag-and-bone man inspects some old computer spares.

In the wake of our recent war on dust, (which you can read about here, if you wish), I discovered and threw out many unwanted and unused items. Instead of leaving them on the garbage pile, I looked out for the local rag-and-bone man. I see him passing below our balcony on a regular basis so it wasn't long before I spotted him. I called him and asked him to meet me outside our courtyard.

He was downstairs with his assistant and chatting to Achmed, the apartment nightwatchman, when I got downstairs with discarded items.

After a brief spell of negotiations, I told him I didn't want payment. All I wanted was a photo with them and their donkey.

The rag-and-bone man and his assistant pose with their donkey

We don't have a rag-and-bone man in our town back home in South Africa. Does anyone else know of these merchants?
The rag-and-bone man loads the goods onto his donkey cart


  1. No---I've never heard of a "Rag-and-bone" man... I assume they buy and sell other peoples' stuff... I guess it's kinda like having a garage sale or yard sale here ---where someone's junk becomes someone else's treasures....

    Glad you had some things to give them... Love the picture.

  2. This is interesting. Do you know why he is called the rag and bone man? I wish we had one here so he could come and pick up all the things I've given away and want to give away.

  3. Hi Jo,
    I'm sorry that for some reason my comments have not been posting, I think the problem (finger's crossed) has been resolved, it's been quite frustrating.

    When I was a child in England, the rag-and-bone man would come around to school; he would be collecting old jumpers, and if you donated one he would give you a goldfish. I remember being so excited to get a goldfish. I carefully carried it home in a water filled plastic bag where Mom put it in a glass bowl. Sadly over night the little fish, somehow, escaped and was found next morning on the kitchen counter. I think I was around 6 at the time! Thanks for the memory.
    Sunny :)

  4. Hi Betsy;) It is like having a garage or yard sale, only quicker! Hope you're safely away on you holiday by now. (((Hugs))) Jo

    Hi Joyful;) The rag-and-bone man is British and he used to collect (on horsedrawn cart) old rags to convert into fabric and bones to make glue. He'd often trade these for small items. I see him as an old-time recycling depot!

    Hi Sunny;) I've missed you. Oh, WHAT a nostalgic memory of the goldfish. Thanks for popping in again.

  5. I love the fact that you wanted no payment from him & only a photo, Jo ! I would far rather see people like your rag-and-bone man trying to eek out a living than the spoilt British youth living off benefits & not doing a day's work in their life (& still complaining) or the beggars on the street corners in Johannesburg .... or the criminals.

  6. Absolutely Lynda, these people work hard at earning a few coins yet they still smile. They went off calling down the street (which is how I found out about them in the first place!)

  7. We always had a rag&bone man cruising the streets when I was a child in the UK. He'd often take worthless things and give the child of the house a goldfish as a present! Or was it tadpoles? I can't remember.

  8. The rag-and-bone man is kind of like a traveling thrift store. We take our old, not-used-anymore stuff to a thrift store where the procedes they get from the sale of such items supports a charity hospice.

  9. Klink soos ons "Wit Olfant" tafel by die kerkbasaar! Die "Rag-and-bone" man is eintlik 'n wonderlike manier van gee, versprei & (soos jy genoem het) herwinning. Jou foto's vertel 'n pragtige storie!!

  10. Oh Jo! How neat to have a rag and bone man pass by! I have stuff to give away as well!lol
    Great shot of them!
    Happy day to you!


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