The African edition.
Issue 1, June 2009
â€œan identifiable period in the history or development of somethingâ€?
The Big Picture, One Person at a Time.
The Africa Edition. In this, the first edition of CHAPTER,we look at the good, the bad and the fabulous that is my Africa. A view as it were not always conforming to the retro-centric nostalgia of old world power centers, but one trying to find a balance between the “reality” of where we are and the “potential” of where we could be. On this journey we will walk with the Maasai, look at the obscenery of “xenophobia” and reconstruct histories from “scrap”. We take flight in Mozambique, and stare into the eyes of Africa through her people.
03 Summary & Content. 04 Editorial. 05 Xenophobe. 2weeks after the one year anniversary that marked the xenophobic attacks that swept across S.A like wildfire we look back, to look forward.
16 Out of Africa. Moments from the Continent.
30 Miyere Ole Miyendazi Primitive and proud of it.The Maasai Warrior who could.
20 Profile. The Legacy of Utility. A story about a man and “scrap”. 27 Inter-face. “The surface, place, or point where two things touch each other or meet.” Encarta®
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From my maternal grandmother’s side, I am the 9th generation of an ancestor exiled to the Cape as Political Prisoner for fighting against the Dutch Colonialists in Present day Indonesia. From my maternal grandfather my ancestry is also of “the kings of slaves” as they were known due to their literacy, knowledge of mathematics, skills and nobility of character. My great grandfather from my fathers side was a cook on an old wooden ship from Mauritius who decided to stay in Cape Town, my fathers maternal grandfather was a friend of Gandhi and accompanied him on his mission to the Capitol of the British Empire. My father was imprisoned by the South African secret police in the 60’s for being one of the founding members of the Muslim Youth Movement who believed it was the duty of the South African muslim community to protest vociferously against the human injustice that was Apartheid. My name is Yasser Booley, I was born at St. Monica’s home maternity hospital in the “BoKaap” (Upper- Cape) on the 24 November 1975 to Thabiet and Phaldiela Booley. I grew up in Apartheid South Africa, in an area known on the maps of my high school geography classes as the “ Malay Slave Quarters”. To say that my Biography starts with the date of my birth would be an injustice to the memory of the people and stories that shaped who I am. My story as a photographer begins with the gift of a camera from my father in my penultimate year at high school in 1992. I still have my Yashika FX-D. The second roll of film I ever shot was exposed at the events around the memorial service of slain ANC leader Chris Hani as a high school kid still in his school uniform. This fact did not stop the riot police from firing buckshot at us. I kept on. www.yasserbooley.wordpress.com christmas lights, Grunau, Zurich. CHAPTER | PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNAL | APRIL 2009 | 4
“someone who fears or dislikes , foreign people, their customs and culture, or foreign things. “ Encarta®
Outside Parliament, Cape Town, South Africa. People came together in Roeland street to voice their opposition to the violence perpetrated against African nationals. The madness that gripped the country raised its ugly head in the townships of Cape Town the evening before with the forced expulsion of Somali businessmen in Site 5, situated close to the picturesque Long Beach. About 5 hours before the protest the violence hit Nyanga & Khayelitsha on the Cape Flats . 25 May 2008.
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The “Heartbeat “ of the continent to the fore. 25 May 2008. CHAPTER | PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNAL | APRIL 2009 | 6
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Zayd, from Bangladesh, received citizenship after living in S.A for 5 years, married for 2 of those 5, owner of electronic repairs shop in a business centre in Khayelitsha, employed 4 women and 2 men from the area, looted, lost half million Rands worth of stock excluding mobile and televisions of people in the surrounding area. Surprised and angered by the complete lack of Police presence on the Saturday morning he got looted.
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Thedross from Ethiopia, arrived in S.A 1997. Holding up his temporary Asylum Seeker permit he tells me that in any other country in the world you get citizenship after 5 years., heâ€™s been in South Africa for 11! To him it seems that if you have the means, you the possibility to get your papers. His story is not uncommon.This photo was taken at a small community hall in the affluent Scarborough area.Together with about 150 other men from Somalia, Ethiopia, Burundi, he is seeking a safe haven from the attacks and looting that spread to the Ocean View township where he lives and works.
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Rafilo Laurenco from Mozambique. He had only very recently arrived in the country and found himself in the middle of situation that was nothing he could have anticipated from his dreams of a better life. At the Tsoga centre in Samora Machel he stayed with 250 people and 15 children. The community of Samora Machel pre-empted the attacks and held a community meeting where it was decided that they would protect their neighbours. The women from the area cooked and did the laundry for all their â€œguestsâ€?. CHAPTER | PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNAL | APRIL 2009 | 10
Terence Muwera from Zimbabwe. A 17 year old welder who had worked for 3 years to buy his own container to start his business. Together with the destruction of his container, his tools were all stolen. This photo was taken outside the Desmon Tutu Hall another of the temporary shelters in Khayelitsha.
People arrive Desmond Tutu Hall with their liveâ€™s packed up. 11 | CHAPTER | PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNAL | APRIL 2009
Family from Malawi.
Ndagijimana Billy from Burundi. Arrived in S.A in 1994. “ its apartheid, but black on black, today its us, tomorrow its the coloureds, then the whites.” He lost his auto electrical business. “after 14 years, all i have to show for it is the clothes on my back” CHAPTER | PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNAL | APRIL 2009 | 12
Namu and Devine from Zimbabwe, Samora Machel, Tsoga Centre.
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South Africans Showing “heart” 25 May 2008. CHAPTER | PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNAL | APRIL 2009 | 14
1. Demonstrator outside Cape Town Parliament. 2. A woman from the Congress of South African Trade Unions at a protest arranged by the South African Communist Party in Khayelitsha, the biggest township in the Province. 3. A mother brings her children to drop off donations for the non-nationals housed in temporary shelters at about 5 sites through out the Cape Town area. 4. Makwerekwere, the derogatory term used to describe non-nationals. 5. Headline in the City centre. 6. South African Communist Party member at a demonstration in Khayelitsha. 7. Girls from the Samora Machel Youth Forum preparing to spend another night at the Tsoga Environmental centre, where they played a key role in mobilising the community in preparation for the influx of non-nationals having seen the attacks spread across the country. 8. The Youth Forum members range in age from 7 to 35. They assisted in moving the stock from shops in the area owned by their “guests” to the houses of respected community members for safe keeping. 9. “I am human, they are also human,flesh and blood, like me. Human, not animals” Mzu Mkhaya 23,Khayelitsha. 15 | CHAPTER | PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNAL | APRIL 2009
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Out of Africa
On a beach in Vilanculos,Mozambique. Joy transcends national borders, cultural politics and defies market segmentation. 17 | CHAPTER | PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNAL | APRIL 2009
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I bought fabric at a market, handed it over to a tailor who ran his business from the porch of his house, at the side of the road. The boy in this picture is his son. 19 | CHAPTER | PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNAL | APRIL 2009
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The Legacy of Utility.
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The value of a thing is its use, and the use of a thing is its value. Meet Harry, a man who mines the history of objects, giving new voices to our past and possibly our future. In our present age where what we buy today ends up on a scrap heap tomorrow, our sense of value one can argue, is distorted. What can a crazy middle aged white man in Cape Town South Africa teach us about value, or the importance of the history of day to day things? The answer to that question I do not pretend to know, and the “offering” of the middle aged white man he would never claim as his own, as he is himself a servant to the stories lived into the smoothly worn bucket handles, hammer heads, chains , engine parts, screw drivers and all the other “scrap” that spell out the ingredients of a formulated recipe of wondrous proportions. “if you think about it, there’s a hundred hours of work in one bucket of scrap.”I may have gotten it wrong , but then again its an equally valid perspective to assume that the hours of work refers to the time it takes to combine all the pieces into new formulations. However , and this is after a little bit of thinking , the hours of work could be the “making” of the scrap . There is no making without people , and where there are people making , there is history. Whether it is the fifth gear sprocket of a 1960 ford Anglia or the blades of a 20 year old garden shear, there were people involved in the making, the shaping through use, of every piece. Harry told me that it takes on average 5 minutes to have the essence of the new piece done, it usually takes more time for the extra details like making it stand or shaping little bits. Harry lives in Muizenberg, a beach side neighbourhood more famous for its reputation as a beach for beginner surfers, than the creative home of extraordinary people .He stays with his 2 boys, well, young men would be more accurate. Apollo, and Pan. named thus perhaps because of his Greek ancestry. The writers of the Greek mythology and Harry share the tradition of story telling, in as much as the fantastical creatures and the human condition are involved, and differ in my opinion, only in the medium.
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Whereas the writers of the great epics used words, Harry uses life crystallized from the mixture of human endeavor and metal to construct sentences capturing the subtle nuances of touch through time. The cognitive associations, apprehensions, interactions, the sweat, the laughter, the fantasy of juxtaposition he uses to make stories that many times can stand on their own and don’t require batteries.h I asked Harry why he made art and this is what he said, “maybe its conceit. I like the notion of being an artist, so I’ve got to maintain it.... the conceit of being an artist. If I said I was a carpenter, I would have to work with wood. but I don’t say I’m a carpenter .... maybe that’s all it is, if I say I am an accountant, I better keep books.“ So I push a bit harder and he starts to speak to me about how we waste and with regards to the ‘scrap’: “its not the material that we waste, that gets recycled, it’s the work that gets wasted. We reduce it to its material and its form is totally ignored. so if I can save it from thve scrap bins by welding it together and calling it art ...” Like all people wanting to write a story, I started out with a few notions of my own which from Harry’s perspective is like trying to instantaneously apply a concentrated dose of experience and time to an object to end up with a beautiful time, skin worn piece, which as we know is impossible. I suspect that the instinct of seeing what lies behind the form of a thing, translates to perceiving the meaning of that thing and this takes time, though in his own humble way, Harry is a Master. What I do know, is that for reasons that he can’t, or is not willing to say, he has to make one everyday and this means that if he has to work (oh , Harry does something on film and commercial sets in the art department. more he doesn’t say, and I don’t ask) and misses a couple of days, he makes up for the days lost.
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Try as I may, I found no political holy cows hiding in the cupboard or under the bed for that matter. South Africa, Apartheid - surely this word has a place? Well, I just constructed a space for it, for as far as Harry is concerned, we are all political concepts the moment we are born and,like the materials he works with which has value because of its use, so too it is with people, who have value for what they use this life for.
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INTER-FACE 27 | CHAPTER | PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNAL | APRIL 2009
Boeta Maan. Philosopher, oral history repository, teacher. Cape Town
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Abdul Dube, Photographer, artist, curator, African.
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Primitive & Proud of it CHAPTER | PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNAL | APRIL 2009 | 30
“Home?, my home is Africa... the whole of it....who owns the air, the sea...how can you OWN the land? ...Democracy...that means that if 2 out of 5 people are right, everybody has to do what the 3 decide “ , are just a few of the things I remember from our first conversation. Miyere Ole Miyendazi walked from his native Kenya to Raise awareness of the legitimate landclaims of the Maasai, this picture was taken shortly after his arrival in Cape Town,South Africa 2004. [previous page 2006, Public Relations for performance and exhibition calle “ No Borders”] 31 | CHAPTER | PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNAL | APRIL 2009
“99 year lease maasai” You may be curious as to what the title of this essay means? This is what you type into google search, after which you click on the first article by the BBC. They capture the events leading to the journey that took Miyere almost 6 months with no passport or money to the tip of Africa, which incidentally is where I met him. The Company Gardens in Cape Town is where I saw him the second time that day. It as here that i resolved to walk up to him and find out what his story was. You see, i had already seen him once that morning, at the same time within, as well as floating above the hustle of the inner city, his ochre and red as loud as his gazelle-like gait was melodious and i decided to wait, and approach him the next time i saw him. As a young photographer who had just started working for one of the national newspapers this was a dream subject! The Mail & Guardian naturally expressed their interest in the story and the rest as they say, is history. Miyere went on to weave his bright red thread into the fabric of Cape Town and her people leaving impressions of majesty and grace on everyone he met, from the street kids to my mother. I saw him in November last year in Durban ( which he walked to ) and he was , as always, representing the minority, which in this instance was the inner city street kid community that he had befriended, organizing educational and recreational activities for them through the incredible network of people he has built up. MIyere and his ongoing mission can be seen at www.maasaiwarrior.com. I have decided to end this magazine with a brief that i got from MIyere when he asked me to exhibit work at this gathering he’d been organizing. NO BORDERS The NO BORDERS exhibition is an endeavor to dismantle the everyday boundaries that besiege our lived realities and restrict our individual freedoms. It is an effort to express the elementary basics of life namely water, earth and fire, which in themselves are “un-bordered” and accessible to all and sundry, albeit in varying degrees. It is a pity that even access to some of these elements, more so earth, have over time being restricted to a selected privileged few, and the worry is that this is bound to expand to other spheres of our lived necessary existence. NO BORDERS seeks to highlight the BORDERS that the “modern” world has imposed on our progeny and the masses at large, especially the voiceless and downtrodden people. Present day society is under a scepter of control facilitated through the mass media, suspect governments and other paraphernalia that threaten to alienate us from our fellow human beings, confining us to our four walled realities. A host of negative “phenomena” knows NO BORDERS. The HIV/Aids pandemic, for example, has NO BORDERS in its speedy quest to annihilate humankind. Polluters have NO BORDERS in their capitalist greed to the detriment of our precious Ozone Layer. Indeed, environmental degradation is governed by NO BORDERS, leading to acres of wastelands across the globe. Yet, we coil up within our constructed BORDERED realities, seemingly hoping that all these problems will sort themselves out, or just pass away, naïve of the grim futures we are quietly accepting for the next generations and us. NO BORDERS is a journey to the cognitive mental borders that have culled our freedom to think critically. It is a clarion call to humankind to re-waken and garner for emancipation from our “cultural and ethnic prisons”. It is a cry for reclaiming voices of the exploited and marginalized members of our society. It is the raising of a new flag, for a new space...with NO BORDERS. It is through unity that problems will be solved...commencing by the defenestrating of all BORDERS. MIyere Ole Miyendazi CHAPTER | PHOTOGRAPHY JOURNAL | APRIL 2009 | 32
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All thanks, praise and gratitude is Due to The Maker of Atoms, The Fashioner of Love,The Compassionate, The Merciful. I owe a debt of thanks to my wife for he patience and support in all things, her family for allowing the space for “this” to happen, to my family, my mother (possibly my biggest fan!), all those who supported me from the first roll of film 17 years ago, Abdul for advice and to Walter Murray for making the design template for me. The image below i call “vuil plak” which is Afrikaans for “dirty cheek” as in the audacity of the will to achieve in the face of adversity. Yasser Booley.
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