The story of SA through a lens

ANGER UNLEASHED: Police and protesters clash during the dark days of apartheid
ANGER UNLEASHED: Police and protesters clash during the dark days of apartheid

NELSON Mandela Bay art viewers were treated to a night with a legend at the opening of Peter Magubane’s “A Struggle without Documentation is no Struggle?” exhibition at the ArtEC gallery last night.

A week after South Africans made their mark and voted in the fifth democratic elections, the evening was most fitting.

“Everyone who calls himself a South African has to see this,” Mgubane, 82, said, pointing towards one of his iconic photographs. “We have to see what the past has been like.

“Port Elizabeth had quite a lot of political movement back in those days. So I used to be all over the show from PAC to ANC events.”

Starting at 7pm, the three- hour opening featured historic photographs taken from 1954 to 1994.

First the struggle against apartheid as a fearless photojournalist, then South Africa’s transition to democracy as Madiba’s official photographer, and today, the cultural traditions and practices of the Rainbow Nation.

“I am happy to still be alive to see my country’s history that I documented for more than 50 years”, said the photographer, who does not plan to retire any time soon.

From the streets of the country’s townships to its hallways of power, Magubane has dedicated more than half a century to capturing the story of South Africa through his lens.

The display follows its successful staging at the Johannesburg Absa Gallery in February and March to mark 20 years of freedom and democracy.

Absa art and museum curator Paul Bayliss said they hoped Bay art enthusiasts would come out and view this retrospective of a living legend which will run until May 29.

“We realised that not everyone was able to go to the initial exhibition in Johannesburg, so we are bringing the exhibition to various cities. After Oudtshoorn, the [Bay] is the second city we have brought the exhibition to.

“Here we celebrate the work of an individual who has been present in almost all historic events and massacres that have taken place in the country,” Bayliss said. – Balisa Ntloko

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