THEMBA MBUYISA
contemporary fashion photographer and visual artist

When Bread Winners are Away



On my quest to learn more about the importance of image making, I decided to visit the rural parts of my country researching about what happens in rural homes when the bread winners have left, in search of better opportunities in the city. 

I also tried to re-represent that feeling through imagery. It was June 2013, I had just dropped out of my BSc computer science degree from Wits university after studying two years for it.

I think that this was also the moment where my mother approved my change of career fields as she was also involved in process and the value of this photo in someway or another. 


Whilst spending a month photographing, I came across an old man, Mr Ngema (pictured here) whom I briefly spoke with about this research I was undertaking before taking a photo. I also promised to give him his printed version of the images when I return. 

Later that year my mother was visiting KZN, so I asked her to take the photo along and give it to Mr Ngema as I have promised him. 

I had printed the photo on an archival photo paper, signed and framed it, also wrote his name and the date the photo was taken. I knew that this was going to be a treasure ready to hanged on the wall as a memory for years to come. 

So my mother did as I had asked, but it was a bittersweet moment when she got to Mr Ngema’s house when they told her that Mr Ngema had passed away and his funeral was a week ago.

But they busted into joy when they saw my mother carrying a big photo of him, they were happy because he had never had a photo taken of him, the photo that my mom was carrying was the first and the only one and they appreciated and thanked my mom for the great pleasure to the point where they even offered to pay for the image, the moment brought tears to everyone. 


I remember my mother calling me at that same instant and all I could hear was a lot of voices thanking me for the photo.

I asked them to keep the photo for free and use that money for something else.


 
 
 
 
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