The nation woke up to the devastating news that anti-apartheid photographer, Santu Mofokeng (64) has died. The Soweto born photographer co-founded Afrapix in 1985, a photography collective agency that produced work that exposed the social and political conditions of black South Africans living during apartheid.
“Basically, I was trying to show what life is like in the apartheid. I was hopeless as a photojournalist because I don’t drive, I‘d never keep deadlines, therefore I’d do things differently. I had photographs in places where I’d normally go. Instead of looking at Afrikaners for instance, saying look how ugly these people are or whatever, it was more inward-looking,” he said during an interview with Figures and Fictions.
“Many photojournalists would go into a situation, photograph it and then get out. I was making pictures of people I have to live with, which makes a difference. If I see that you’re and I show photographs of you looking poor, people wouldn’t be happy because this is not how they see themselves. Journalism focuses on what is lacking in Soweto and not what is there.”
“Santu went on to distinguish himself in South Africa and the world as a great visionary and artist,” his friends, Omar Badsha and Cedric Nunn said in a statement.
“He elevated both himself and South African photography and art globally,” they said.
Santu Mofokeng will be remembered for his contributions to black art and history. His style of photographer portrayed black South Africans for who they are, and not what the world perceives them to be.
Feature image by Steve Tanchel.