Magubane lauded as one of SA’s most fearless journalists

Magubane lauded as one of SA’s most fearless journalists

President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the late South African photographer and apartheid activist Peter Magubane as one of the most fearless journalists South Africa has ever produced.

Magubane lauded as one of SA’s most fearless journalists

The renowned photographer on New Year’s Day at the age of 91.

Magubane's funeral service took place at the Bryanston Methodist Church, north of Johannesburg, on Wednesday.

Ramaphosa delivered the eulogy and told mourners that despite all attempts to break his spirit and take away his craft, Magubane refused to put down his camera.

Magubane gained worldwide fame for his photos, which painted vivid scenes of the meaning of everyday life in apartheid South Africa.

"He would smuggle his cameras, as we heard, into hollowed-out bread, and I try to imagine the imagery of how one takes out the inners of the loaves of bread and fits in a camera and proceeds to make it though that you are having your lunch from the bread as you are shooting pictures. He also put his camera in milk cartons, and we are even told that he even used the bible to take pictures without notice from the authorities,” Ramaphosa said.

"One of his best-known images is of a black domestic worker stroking the hair of a white child, sitting on a 'Europeans only' bench; it was able to transport the lived experiences of black people in South Africa to many people in distant lands across the world.

"Despite having his own job to do and his own deadlines to meet, he was always ready to help and to support fellow journalists who were working with him in the trenches, including the many foreign correspondents recording our horrible story at that time."

Speaking at the funeral service, South African actor and author John Kani said Magubane's camera also managed to expose police brutality during apartheid.

"...and the police didn't fear so much, our stones and petrol bombs, they feared that camera because that camera exposed that brutality. If Peter was still ‘Bra Peter’, we would have deployed him to Gaza and we would have had better pictures. Not in the sense of being better but better in a desperate way."

Magubane's granddaughter, Lungile Magubane, said her grandfather should not be remembered only as a South African photojournalist.

"One of the notions I have been insisting on reiterating is that our grandfather was not just a photojournalist or a struggling photographer; he should be remembered as a multi-potential light, an artist who spent his life creating visual archives for the canon of  South African cultural history."


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