New Internationalist

Neo Ntsoma

Issue 346

I grew up in Mmabatho, a small town about 350 kilometres from Johannesburg. My original interest was in film and television. Due to the race restrictions at the time, I could not reach my wish. So I applied to study photography instead, mainly because it was offered in several institutions, some of which were not in support of the apartheid system. When I began my course in Cape Town in 1992 I did not know that memories from my childhood would return with such clarity. It felt like I had a calling to make the past live forever in real images. I was also inspired to make a change to the gender imbalance in my country. There were few black female photographers — less than 10. It was not very safe for any photographer, regardless of gender and race. It was a criminal offence to be found in possession of photographic images that carried any political message. Many media workers were regularly locked up, while others went into exile. As a result, my generation was left without any role models.

Now I am prepared to devote my time and energy to popularizing the profession among other women, especially those who lack self-esteem, and to plough back the knowledge I have gained by making a difference in someone’s life.

Neo Ntsoma works for the South African daily newspaper, The Star.

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