Tributes for vet­eran pho­tog­ra­pher #RIPSamNz­ima

Inner City Gazette - - News - By Staff Re­porter [email protected]­

It was with deep sad­ness that I learnt of the pass­ing on of Mr Sam Nz­ima, vet­eran pho­tog­ra­pher, fa­ther and grand­fa­ther. Though he lived in the province of Mpumalanga most of his late adult­hood years, he was in many re­spects also a very big part of Jo­han­nes­burg.

“As a pho­tog­ra­pher for the World News­pa­per dur­ing the apartheid era, he doc­u­mented the June 16 1976 up­ris­ings. His world-recog­nised pho­to­graph of Hec­tor Pi­eter­son in the hands of Mbuy­isa Makhubu with Hec­tors’ sis­ter

“An­toinette Sit­hole run­ning along­side, cap­tured the imag­i­na­tion of the world, and ex­posed the bru­tal re­pres­sion that was the or­der of the day.

‘In one pic­ture, he ex­posed the bru­tal­ity and mer­ci­less­ness that the black youth in South Africa was ex­posed to. Although a still pic­ture, he an­i­mated the strug­gle of the black child in South Africa.

“Nz­ima paid the price for his sharp eye; and had to go into hid­ing for quite some time as he was con­stantly harassed by the po­lice. This was a fate he faced to­gether with his col- leagues Peter Magubane and Mike Mzileni, to name a few. The World News­pa­per was sub­se­quently banned.

“Post 1994, when the his­tory of South Africa was be­ing re-writ­ten, Nz­ima’s pho­tog­ra­phy took cen­tre stage.

“His pic­ture of Pi­eter­son was re­pro­duced and reimag­ined as pub­lic art in the form of a sculp­ture which an­i­mates the City of Jo­han­nes­burg’s Hec­tor Pi­eter­son Mu­seum in Soweto.

“His pho­to­graphs, to­gether with those of his fel­low photo jour­nal­ists, have been the sub­ject of many dis­ser­ta­tions.

The com­plex role Nz­ima and his fel­low photo jour­nal­ists played in our so­ci­ety is best cap­tured by Dr He­lena Poh­landt- McCormick who un­earthed the 1976 ar­chive in the fol­low­ing words:

“Images of the Soweto up­ris­ing have stayed with the strug­gle against apartheid through the years and have cap­tured the col­lec­tive imag­i­na­tion.

“As sto­ries they be­came part of the dis­course of lib­er­a­tion or, in the hands of apartheid’s spokes­men, part of the rhetoric of the ne­ces­sity of sup­pres­sion of threats to the se­cu­rity of the state. As pho­to­graphs they be­came part of the in­ven­tory of pub­lic his­tory or, in the past, ma­te­rial ev­i­dence or doc­u­men­ta­tion for the gov­ern­ment’s in­ves­ti­ga­tions.”

“Sam Nz­ima will con­tinue to live through his work. May he rest in peace and rise in glory. May his fam­ily and loved ones find com­fort in know­ing that he wrote his name in the his­tory books of South Africa. He left an in­deli­ble mark, and he will al­ways be re­mem­bered and cel­e­brated,” con­cludes the state­ment, is­sued by MMC for Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment, Cllr Nonhlanhla Si­fumba.

Late vet­eran pho­tog­ra­pher, Sam Nz­ima

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