The people's struggle in pictures

15 June 2012 | Story by Newsroom
The 1980s was a violent, frightening decade for South Africa, the struggle against apartheid and the brutal suppression of protesting voices were at its most intense. An eye-catching photographic exhibition titled On the Frontline: Youth in struggle, South Africa in the 1980s, on show in the Research Wing on level 4 of UCT's Chancellor Oppenheimer Library (just in time for Youth Day on 16 June), is a chronicle of that decade.

photograph photographs
Struggle: Among the pictures on display at the On the Frontline is this one by Paul Weinberg, capturing the moment as members of the Leandra Youth Congress regroup after repelling an attack by vigilantes at the funeral of their community leader, Chief Ampie Mayisa, in the Leandra township, in 1986. Anthology: Visitors to the Chancellor Oppenheimer Library have a chance to revisit the turmoils of the 1980s through a photographic exhibition.

The period is captured through the lenses of the news photographers who risked life and limb to document the crisis from, quite literally, under the barrel of apartheid police guns.

Journalist Tony Weaver, speaking at the launch of the exhibition on 12 June, said that the work of some the world's "finest documentary photographers, no, Struggle Photographers" was on display.

All images were sourced from the UCT Libraries holdings. This includes photographs of the body of 11-year-old Michael Miranda, murdered by security police in the Trojan Horse massacre; that of another young man being attacked by a heavily-armed group of vigilantes; and numerous stills of funerals of victims of apartheid-police brutality.

The work of photographers such as Paul Weinberg, now senior curator with UCT Libraries, feature prominently.

"Look carefully at the photographs on display here this evening: they all have one common thread," said Weaver. "They tell the peoples' story, the story of the oppressed and the brutalised, the marginalised; but also, they tell the story of courage, of resistance, of the peoples' struggle."

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