MAGUBANE'S SOUTH AFRICA by Peter Magubane
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MAGUBANE'S SOUTH AFRICA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Peter Magubane is a black South African news photographer whose prints could be taken for Cartier-Bresson's. The decisive moment is a pause; a multitude is many people, a crowd is a frieze; space is endless or suffocating; two children become a psychodrama. (Magubane has an eye for the naked expressions of childhood.) These are, at the same time, images of black South African history--riots, ""removals,"" casual arrests--and, as Magubane suggests, the newspapers need black photographers in order to have such pictures. To that extent he is exempt from the strictures of the very system that oppresses him, one of the few blacks able to develop professionally. He has won awards for his work while in detention--and he's forbidden to have a darkroom within Johannesburg, where his paper, the Rand Daily Mail, is published. All this--including his five years' banning--he tells in a direct, colloquial manner, without self-pity. The many photos, too, are crisply, almost laconically captioned: ""A policeman with a dog is a fearful thing. One of those dogs will rip you open."" This is not only a record of white brutality and black anguish, however, but of resilience and rebellion and mutual support. The facts perhaps speak for themselves, but it is the undertow that is most eloquent.

Pub Date: April 21st, 1978
Publisher: Knopf