Getting to know each other through each other’s lenses

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By MICHELLE BANDA

A young man with a passion for the natural environment was voted the best photographer at the Masazaneni Exhibition at a packed Joza Youth Hub last Friday.

Chulumanco Kuhlane, a Grade 10 learner from Nombulelo High School, walked off with a R200 Bargain Books voucher for his striking set of photos.

The Masazaneni exhibition (Masazaneni means ‘let’s get to know each other’ in isiXhosa) was the culmination of a three-month exchange between six Rhodes photojournalism students and more than a dozen Nombulelo learners. The exhibition including several photos by the Nombulelo learners exhibited side-by-side with the photojournalist’s efforts.

The collaboration allowed the participants a unique window into each other’s worlds through the medium of photography. The Upstarters were taught how to use cameras and encouraged to document their own lives and neighbourhoods in their photographs. Meanwhile, the Rhodes students got to know the learners over a couple of months by photographing them.

Second prize went to Sphamandla Boma, an easy-going, shy young man who said he had tried to “capture anything and everything close to my heart”. One of his photographs depicted a burst sewer which he humorously captioned, ‘Makhanda municipality’s unfulfilled promises’.

In third position was Vusumuzi Tshekema who told a rending story about his cousin who is on drugs because of lack of employment.

Nombulelo learner, Valentine Ntusi, commented: “Not only did I learn how to capture exceptional pictures but about telling a story and being able to see and feel someone’s expression through a photograph.”

The exhibition was part of a wider three-month exchange of media skills (radio, video, digital storytelling, and writing) and local knowledge between third-year Journalism students and a range of local community partners.

The exhibition followed Upstart Youth Media Development’s AGM, which resolved to produce their own scripts for audio dramas and to continue with their weekly human rights-themed radio shows on Rhodes Music Radio.

Upstart programme coordinator, Sindi Dingana, said she was happy with the attendance at the AGM and the exhibition and looked forward to the expansion of the project in 2020.

Should you want to know more about Upstart feel free to contact Sindi Dingana: upstartyouth3@gmail.com 0789303449 or browse the website http://upstart.ru.ac.za/

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