New Internationalist

Neo Ntsoma

June 2002

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.

Drik Picture Library Ltd

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 346 This column was published in the June 2002 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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