‘I'm completely grey, you see. So every once in a while I make a change.’
‘My eyes, they are not working.’
‘I look after my six grandchildren. There’s no one to help me – so I do what I can.’
Page 9 THE INDEPENDENT on Saturday 2 March 2013
‘I love Durban. I was born here. I still swim in the ocean. The people are the most understanding people.’
‘I am Zulu. But the tourists, they like the bushman.’
‘I dress this way to remind people of their culture. People don’t remember where they came from.’
HUMANS OF DURBAN SIHLE MTHEMBU ICAELA de Freitas is a custodian of the human story. The 22year-old Durbanite is a throwback photographer. Short and armed with an unobtrusive digital camera she is totally non-threatening. But it is what she does with that camera that is truly significant. On any given day De Freitas can be found strolling around Durban’s inner city conversing with strangers and asking them to pose for some candid snaps. As the sole photographer for Humans of Durban, she is part of a global network of image makers who spend their time interviewing people and documenting their stories. Speaking about why she decided to join the Humans of Durban Project, De Freitas notes that she found that photography was the best way to explore not only Durban but to interact with the people around her. “I was due to come home to Durban after a year abroad and I was looking for a way to explore my city, to improve my photography, and to interact with people in Durban I wouldn’t otherwise stop and chat to
One woman and her camera are sharing the city’s diversity and decided that the ‘Humans of…’ concept would be perfect,” says De Freitas. Having been around for less then a year and uploaded dozens of pictures online, De Freitas has earned herself a loyal following. She does, however, note that even though the work is hard she still enjoys working alone. “I actually find it much easier to work alone. When I’m walking the streets of Durban looking for subjects, I’m far more in tune with my surroundings and potential subjects if I am alone,” says De Freitas. “Beyond that, having the project run by a single photographer gives the blog and the photographs a voice, a style and a consistency that readers will come to identify with.” Although she has exhibited some of the photography in a gallery, most of the pictures are shared online where people can rate, comment and interact.
Speaking about why she decided to publish most of this work in digital format she says that she strives to create a sense of community around the images. “The project’s main audience is on Facebook, and it’s the most widely accessible platform. The photographs are uploaded with captions, which are often something that the subject said. “The captions give the readers a glimpse into the lives of the people I photograph. That personal interaction is not only important for me, as the photographer, but gives the subject a chance to say something and the readers a chance to interact,” says De Freitas. Even though she says the response has been overwhelmingly positive, she notes that sometimes the issue of language can be a problem for her as she does her work and that this is something that has led
her to be more forthcoming as a photographer. “There is some trepidation going into the city centre as a female, alone and with a camera. But my experience so far has only been positive. People have been receptive, engaging and kind. I claim to run a project aimed at showcasing the Humans of Durban and that means investigating areas out of my comfort zone. And besides, a little bit of fear is good for the creative process!” she says. “Most times my camera does all the talking. Despite the language barrier, a subject will understand that I want to photograph them. I explain as best I can, and tell them that they look good, which tends to work most of the time.” Speaking about some of the future plans for the project, De Freitas says that now more than ever she is focused on maintaining the audience that she has created and giving them new and innovative stories. “At this stage, the plan is really to just continue growing the site, and showcasing Durban’s people through the website. This project doesn’t have an end, and is an ongoing exploration of photography, people and this city.”
PEOPLE PERSON: Durban photographer Micaela de Freitas explores the city by interviewing and taking pictures of people for her Humans of Durban project.
Former refugee playing a pivotal role in parish ARTHI SANPATH MORE than 10 years ago, 17-year-old Jean-Marie Ntamubano left his wartorn country of Burundi to avoid being recruited as a child soldier. He did not even get a chance to say goodbye to his parents. He left everything he knew for an arduous sixmonth journey through most of southern Africa before arriving in Durban. “In all that time I used to only think about my family that I left behind. My parents were in a refugee camp and my sister and her husband and baby were killed,” he says. Burundi was in the middle of political and ethnic violence and boys were being recruited as soldiers and this was the fate of many of Ntamubano’s friends. To save himself, he fled with other boys to Tanzania, then to Malawi and Mozambique.
HANDS-ON: Burundian refugee Jean-Marie Ntamubano now calls Durban home. PICTURE: GCINA NDWALANE “We didn’t speak any of their languages, and we had to ask for things, like bananas, using sign language.” They were told it was safe in South Africa.
“When we arrived in Durban, we were taken to a church and this was where we met Sister Marion Millane and Archbishop (Denis) Hurley, who spoke French,” he says. The church was the Emmanuel Cathedral in the busy Warwick market area. From then on, says Ntamubano, they found peace and were taken care of. People had sympathy for them as they were still young boys. “The church put us through school and in the afternoons I used to work as a car guard at the beachfront.” He then studied towards a law degree through Unisa. “All this time the church was still part of my life, and I helped out a lot, there was a position open for parish manager and I got it in May 2009 and have been working here since.” At the church, Ntamubano oversees the care of refugees, mostly, en-
sures that children are put into school, taught English and Zulu, and he helps them find work. They also run health facilities, and a feeding scheme. At present they are based at the Surat Hindu Hall. The work of the parish will be expanded when the Denis Hurley Centre (DHC) opens, a legacy project in honour of the archbishop who was an anti-apartheid activist and campaigner for social justice. “There is a big need for the work we do, and with the new centre we will be able expand all our projects and help people in need, just like I was helped all those years ago,” Ntamubano says, adding that now that he is married and has children, his home is Durban. For more information on the centre visit: www.denishurleycentre.org.za
Liking and respect needed for a good marriage AFTER nearly half a century of wedded bliss, Barbara Taylor Bradford has some simple advice for all women hoping for an equally happy marriage – admire your husband. The best-selling author, who married film producer Bob Bradford in 1963, said respecting one’s
AN RB DU Est. 2002
partner was the key. Bradford, 79, whose works include the guide How to be the Perfect Wife, said she was appalled by couples who quarrel in public. She said: “You have to like and respect the man you are married to. “There’s nothing worse than when we go out to dinner with a
couple, and the woman starts to put her husband down and vice versa. If you don’t like each other, then get a divorce. We remain married because of those reasons and because we share very simple interests. We like going to the cinema, going to the theatre and reading.” – Daily Mail
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