New Internationalist

Neo Ntsoma

Issue 371

This picture is part of my self-initiated project SA Youth ID – Kwaito Culture, a personal and reflective body of work about the changes in the lives of South Africans in the new democratic country. The word Kwaito is derived from the Afrikaans kwaai – ‘angry’. In colloquial slang, negative words or phrases often acquire a positive connotation or ‘cool’ status. The language of Kwaito is Isicamtho, South African township slang.

While working on the project it became clear to me that the youth of South Africa refuse to be condemned by the politics of the past (apartheid) but choose to find their own identity. They have been developing one which is truly and proudly South African – Kwaito culture. It’s about peace, love and unity; about being yourself and loving yourself enough to be YOU.

I am a 31-year-old female photographer. I did my photography studies in Cape Town and Pretoria. I then freelanced in Mmabatho, my hometown, before moving to Johannesburg. My original interest was in film and television. But I could not pursue my dream because of the political situation in South Africa at the time. In 2000 I joined The Star newspaper. I later spent a year teaching at Pathshala South Institute of Photo-graphy in Bangladesh.

I have always been inspired to change the gender imbalance in photography. My recent achievement – the first woman CNN Africa Photographer of the Year – has motivated me to devote my time to this even more, popularizing the profession among other women and ploughing back the knowledge I have gained by making a difference in the lives of others. I continue to work at The Star, specializing in news, fashion and theatre photography.

Neo Ntsoma, South Africa. By arrangement with Drik Picture Library Ltd

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