Impressions of My Hometown: A Photographic Journey

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Xlibris Corporation, Aug 31, 2012 - Photography - 118 pages
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I first came to live in the Graaff Reinet in December 1969 and lived in the location of Masizakhe, which stands for ‘self development’ in the Xhosa language. On arrival I noticed that some of the houses in which the black people lived in were dilapidated, infrastructure was underdeveloped and poverty was rife. I soon came to know that prior to my arrival a Methodist Priest, the Reverend Hermanus and other eighteen or so respectable members of the community were detained and charged for having furthered the aims of the then banned Pan Africanist Congress (PAC). The trickery and astuteness of the special branch police against the detainees turned one against the other where some testified for the apartheid state against Reverend Hermanus and the others. Those who did so led to the disruption of their otherwise decent lives for they became the subject of ridicule in the community thus losing some of the respect that they had prior to their deeds. As to whether they indeed were all members of the PAC has always been a subject of interpretation as some of them refuted having been members nor of any political orgnisation. The special tried the same divisive tactic in the mid 1970’s when they detained a number of young student activists, some of whom belonged to the then South African Student Movement (SASM) and organisation of secondary and high school students. Again five of the student members, Mzuvukile Maqetuka, Mbuyiselo Ralawe, Zolile Maqetuka, Zandisile Pase, Rowena Bolosha and a non-student the late Thabo Nockpal were charged after a long spell in detention and subsequently served an eight month term prison sentence. This time only three members of the detained group were expected to give evidence against the five but refused to sell their soles and dignity, one the late Keith Nqai perjured himself and was sentenced to three months whilst the also refused to evidence and was released. This book not only depicts a photographic journey through Graaff Reinet but resonate the misery, laughter, joy and the political wisdom of a people who made it their duty to develop themselves against all odds and who paid homage to an adage that South Africa and their town in particular belong to all those who live in it provided that all enjoy the equal opportunities that life offers. The book unlike a plethora of others that trace the development of our towns and cities bears testimony and recognises the role played by those who built it – the majestic Dutch Reformed Church forms the pillar of the town, the Methodist Church in the southern part of the location, the Drostdy Hotel in Church Street and the AME Church and all other heritage sites that make Graaff Reinet this ‘Gem of the Karoo’. It captures in a clear and concise manner the uneven development of its various localities. It refutes the notion that it was the Pharaohs who built the pyramids of Egypt. The images in the book tell a story that the author refuses to narrate in words, for he believes that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. Mbuyiselo Ralawe Practising Attorney and Political Activist

 

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