An ode to legions of Kasi photographers

2017-07-13 06:00

This week’s column pays tribute to the legacy of the ‘township photographer’ who traversed the length and breadth of our townships in search of a smile and a pose.

Sadly, this kind of art has gone out of business, it seems.

Smart phones and the tablet seem to have taken over.

A picture is worth a thousand words, age old wisdom dictates.

This holds a very special place in the hearts of those who were on the receiving end of these men’s diligent service, at a time when life was taking its own pulse and pace.

Seems there was an unwritten rule that stipulated that every family deserved to have their own favourite snapper, among these folks.

Mind you, time and timing was of the utmost importance whenever in the presence of these capturers of happy moments.

An arrangement needed to be made well in advance for a photographer to come in on a particular day.

This was with one eye on every family member’s availability. Once the man arrived, soon a highly expectant family would part with their deposit, only to settle the balance on acquiring the images.

It was always the looks on the faces of the recipients that told of a job well done.

To this day, some of these photos take pride of place in lounge rooms of most households all across Visionland.

These days, though, people have their own phones to capture those moments, resulting in the sharp decline on the number of photographers pounding the streets.

With the exception of the few remaining ones, some are gone and forgotten. Come to think of the man who took your first childhood snap may be a carpenter somewhere in the Eastern Cape or a mine worker in Kimberley right now.

And so the smart phones rule the roost in snapdom.

Take the instance of this one fella who always kept his tablet for company, even to the same joint I also frequented.

Even the fact that the gadget could not fit into his pockets never deterred him from carrying it at hand.

He would order his grog, sit down and type and snap all at once. Seemingly. In all his pomposity. He had us all agog. Not least an uncle who once whispered in my ear and wondered what the man’s modus operandi was.

A few weeks later the uncle informed me that our ‘poor friend’ had been dispossessed of his precious possession.

Paused to take a sip, he continued: “Not that I’d love for them to hand it back to him anytime soon, mtshana.”

Among these skilled camera folk was one Madiba, whose works I have first-hand experience of.

Suffice to say he must have made a fortune, on account of his amiable spirit, plus, and the fact that he too some really good photos. A toast among many, you can say.

The above attributes notwithstanding, Madiba suddenly became more ‘famous’ for not returning his subject’s photos.

Frustration and anguish became rife on his customers, despite having taken hold of the deposit money.

Madiba would vanish for weeks on end, and return slightly inebriated, armed with all manner of excuses.

Curious enough, his antics were none the closer to serve as deterrent to part with the money.

His legacy preceded his crookery, one can say. Last Wednesday, I bumped into him at some joint.

Madiba looks a shadow of hiis former self now!

I recently invited friends on Facebook to share their own memories of old-style cameramen from their Kasis, Lalis. I received a deluge of responses.

Sibongiseni Delihlazo shared thus: “I remember how clean they were. There was one in Nyanga East (I don’t know his name). He had a perm and he used to wear white shoes. That was the time there were still no tarred streets or electricity in the townships. But he was such a clean bloke. Each family had its cameraman ... and the funny part is there were no phones and as kids we were dutied to keep an eye out for him when he passes by. And if you didn’t have a tree or grass, your photos would be so poor.”(sic)

Buntu Gotywa lamented: “When I started using a camera, I realised how bad our beloved village cameraman was. We had pictures cutting our heads in half, some very red or dark because he is facing the sun, and imali ayibuyi yona noba zingatsha iphoto.”(sic)

How about this gem from Zimkhita Paul: “Hahahahaha Lungas there was this 1 hot cameraman e Lower back in the day, yho skelem ufote kuso i pic if umxozile i pic yakho kufuneka uyozithathela kowabo. Ngale mini uye ngayo uzofika ixhonywe edongeni. Hayi ke us gals sixozeke nyani coz wayebaba shame ubhuti.”(sic) Say cheese!

This week’s column pays tribute to the legacy of the ‘township photographer’ who traversed the length and breadth of our townships in search of a smile and a pose.

Sadly, this kind of art has gone out of business, it seems.

Smart phones and the tablet seem to have taken over.

A picture is worth a thousand words, age old wisdom dictates.

This holds a very special place in the hearts of those who were on the receiving end of these men’s diligent service, at a time when life was taking its own pulse and pace.

Seems there was an unwritten rule that stipulated that every family deserved to have their own favourite snapper, among these folks.

Mind you, time and timing was of the utmost importance whenever in the presence of these capturers of happy moments.

An arrangement needed to be made well in advance for a photographer to come in on a particular day.

This was with one eye on every family member’s availability. Once the man arrived, soon a highly expectant family would part with their deposit, only to settle the balance on acquiring the images.

It was always the looks on the faces of the recipients that told of a job well done.

To this day, some of these photos take pride of place in lounge rooms of most households all across Visionland.

These days, though, people have their own phones to capture those moments, resulting in the sharp decline on the number of photographers pounding the streets.

With the exception of the few remaining ones, some are gone and forgotten. Come to think of the man who took your first childhood snap may be a carpenter somewhere in the Eastern Cape or a mine worker in Kimberley right now.

And so the smart phones rule the roost in snapdom.

Take the instance of this one fella who always kept his tablet for company, even to the same joint I also frequented.

Even the fact that the gadget could not fit into his pockets never deterred him from carrying it at hand.

He would order his grog, sit down and type and snap all at once. Seemingly. In all his pomposity. He had us all agog. Not least an uncle who once whispered in my ear and wondered what the man’s modus operandi was.

A few weeks later the uncle informed me that our ‘poor friend’ had been dispossessed of his precious possession.

Paused to take a sip, he continued: “Not that I’d love for them to hand it back to him anytime soon, mtshana.”

Among these skilled camera folk was one Madiba, whose works I have first-hand experience of.

Suffice to say he must have made a fortune, on account of his amiable spirit, plus, and the fact that he too some really good photos. A toast among many, you can say.

The above attributes notwithstanding, Madiba suddenly became more ‘famous’ for not returning his subject’s photos.

Frustration and anguish became rife on his customers, despite having taken hold of the deposit money.

Madiba would vanish for weeks on end, and return slightly inebriated, armed with all manner of excuses.

Curious enough, his antics were none the closer to serve as deterrent to part with the money.

His legacy preceded his crookery, one can say. Last Wednesday, I bumped into him at some joint.

Madiba looks a shadow of hiis former self now!

I recently invited friends on Facebook to share their own memories of old-style cameramen from their Kasis, Lalis. I received a deluge of responses.

Sibongiseni Delihlazo shared thus: “I remember how clean they were. There was one in Nyanga East (I don’t know his name). He had a perm and he used to wear white shoes. That was the time there were still no tarred streets or electricity in the townships. But he was such a clean bloke. Each family had its cameraman ... and the funny part is there were no phones and as kids we were dutied to keep an eye out for him when he passes by. And if you didn’t have a tree or grass, your photos would be so poor.”(sic)

Buntu Gotywa lamented: “When I started using a camera, I realised how bad our beloved village cameraman was. We had pictures cutting our heads in half, some very red or dark because he is facing the sun, and imali ayibuyi yona noba zingatsha iphoto.”(sic)

How about this gem from Zimkhita Paul: “Hahahahaha Lungas there was this 1 hot cameraman e Lower back in the day, yho skelem ufote kuso i pic if umxozile i pic yakho kufuneka uyozithathela kowabo. Ngale mini uye ngayo uzofika ixhonywe edongeni. Hayi ke us gals sixozeke nyani coz wayebaba shame ubhuti.”(sic) Say cheese!

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