Journalist honoured

2016-07-13 06:00
VUSI TUKAKGOMO went to see his exhibited work at the McGregor Museum in Kimberley. He is pictured trying to identify the people in the picture.  Photos: Boipelo Mere

VUSI TUKAKGOMO went to see his exhibited work at the McGregor Museum in Kimberley. He is pictured trying to identify the people in the picture. Photos: Boipelo Mere

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ARE you Vusi Tukakgomo? That was the question overheard by the Express Northern Cape reporter from one of the delegates who had attended the launch of the Between States of Emergencies exhibition held at the McGregor Museum on Wednesday, 22 June.

Tukakgomo, a well-known journalist in Kimberley and the rest of the Northern Cape, is the only local journalist whose work is being exhibited amongst the 43 photographs in the hallway at the museum.

The exhibition, commissioned by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, is expected to end on Friday, 30 July, after running for a month. Although he felt honoured to have his work exhibited alongside the greatest photojournalists this country had ever produced, Tukakgomo was initially not aware of this fact.

It was only then that the strangeness of Tukakgomo’s absence dawned, especially given the fact that he is still alive and well in Galeshewe.

When approached by Express Northern Cape to comment on the exhibition, Tukakgomo could not comment nor express how he felt about his work being given recognition, as he was surprised that no contact had been made with him regarding the exhibition.

Tukakgomo worked for the Diamond Fields Advertiser(DFA) at the time the pictures were taken.

Upon seeing his work mounted on the wall, Tukakgomo, now a retiree, struggled to remember the circumstances surrounding the three pictures on which his name was clearly printed on the captions. He struggled to hide his pride and admiration, however, as he recognised some of the people in the pictures.

One of the three photographs at the exhibition shows four schoolgirls at a public school with broken windows, one shows union members during a march and in a third one well-known locals X Parks Leburu, Solly Legodi and another man known as Malope X at the funeral of three students who died during student unrest in Galeshewe.

“I cannot really recall what the stories behind these pictures were. I am sure even these schoolgirls are no longer recognisable,” he said.

Tukakgomo had, however, not been aware that he was among the people celebrated when the exhibition opened, as nobody approached him beforehand.

“I am not sure who was supposed to inform me. Either the DFA or myself should have been consulted in the process. That would have been the decent thing to do and I would have been so much prouder.”

Tukakgomo says he started his journey in journalism at the DFA around 1980 after retiring from the then Kimberley City Council, where he had worked as a labourer and after he had worked at the Department of Bantu Education.

He had also worked as a journalist at the Morris Radio Station, which was based in the old De Beers Road.

“My decision to enter journalism was triggered by my love for reading and writing, which ultimately, as with so many others, had led me to journalism.

“During my school years, I excelled in English and Afrikaans and I was encouraged by my friends to consider journalism and writing as a career.

“I retired from journalism in 2006, when I realised that my memory did not serve me that well.”

After retiring, he worked as a freelancer with Express Northern Cape reporter Boipelo Mere while she was the editor of the Township Roundtrip Newspaper.

Tukakgomo regrets that many of his books and records of work that he did in the 1980s were destroyed during a flooding incident. Some of them had survived, however, because he had taken them to the DFA for safekeeping.

“I took the box with the documents to the DFA office for safekeeping, as my wife had complained about too many papers at home. I did not really consult with anyone at the office at the time.

“I am happy though that my work had been preserved and that it had now been given recognition and I hope this will inspire other journalists in my community.”


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