'Legendary' anti-apartheid photographer Ranjith Kally has died

2017-06-06 20:57
Ranjith Kally. (YouTube scree grab,  eThekwini Living Legends )

Ranjith Kally. (YouTube scree grab, eThekwini Living Legends )

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Johannesburg – Legendary anti-apartheid photographer Ranjith Kally died at the age of 91 on Tuesday morning, his daughter, Jyoti Michael, said.

The Isipingo born man had been recovering from a hip injury after he slipped and fell at Michael’s Sandton home six weeks ago.

Kally was best known for capturing moments of some of South Africa’s greatest liberation struggle icons and celebrities such as Chief Albert Luthuli, Miriam Makeba, Monty Naicker, Thandi Klaasen and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

The author of Memory Against Forgetting worked for Drum magazine and Golden City Post, among other publications. 

His daughter, 58, said about six weeks ago, Kally slipped and fell while on a visit at her home.

"He came to Johannesburg to visit us and he slipped and fell and damaged his hip. He was admitted to Morningside Clinic and was being cared for by an orthopedic surgeon."

Michael said the surgeon recommended that Kally recover further at a step-down facility.

"He came home last Thursday and he was in good spirits."

On Tuesday morning, Michael said her father went to the bathroom and then collapsed on the bed.

"It was very peaceful. I think he could not handle the fact that he could not walk anymore and that he was no longer independent. My father was a very dignified man."

Michael said her father had showed no signs of being ill.

"I made him breakfast as usual. He had Weet-Bix at 08:00. We didn’t really have a special conversation, everything seemed normal."

'Fond memories'

She said she would miss her father for the legend that he was.

"He was a living legend. He was the most powerful and strong man that I have ever known. We were both Sagittarius. He taught me to always tell the truth; that is the one lesson that I learnt from him."

She said the funeral would take place this week.

Kally is survived by Michael and her sister who lives in Durban.

His wife died 25 years ago.

Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, Satish Dupelia, shared fond memories in a Facebook tribute to the man he knew as "uncle Ranjith Kally".

"As a 14-year-old boy, I studied photography and darkroom work but had no darkroom. Uncle Ranjith let me use his room with the proviso that I kept it as clean as I found it.

"When Percy Sledge came down, flash photography was banned as Percy had an eye problem. Uncle Ranjith did not moan and shot using a slightly higher speed film and darkroom techniques to produce brilliant shots that even Percy Sledge commented on. He was a great but humble gentleman and earned my respect."

Dupelia said Kally knew his entire family and would tell him stories of his mum and dad.

"There is so much to say about this legend but his name and legacy will live on as he supplied the 1860 Heritage Centre with some classic shots that enhance our exhibitions.

"He could not attend the handing over of the centre but called from Jhb [Johannesburg] to ask how everything had gone. He was and is a legend but to those who knew him he was a warm hearted person with a classic sense of humour and was also never scared to call a spade a spade.

"Uncle Juggie Pather, who knows Uncle Ranjith from before I was born, and I, enjoyed great opportunities to take him out and enjoy a meal and catch up with old stories. We shall miss this legend and good friend and mentor. May his soul rest in peace - gone but never forgotten," he said. 


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