South African photographer of ‘black lives’ Santu Mofokeng dies aged 63


JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African photographer Santu Mofokeng, known for his piercing black-and-white pictures of African life in Johannesburg townships during apartheid, died on Sunday aged 63, his family said.

Born in Soweto just months before the 1956 “Treason Trial” of Nelson Mandela and more than 150 others, Mofokeng gained prominence for his photographic essays of everyday black life that favoured intimacy over sensationalism.

He developed a knack, much like his mentor David Goldblatt, for capturing the emotional and psychological qualities of his subjects, a feature often absent in photographs of the time focused on political violence.

He would eventually freelance for a numerous international news organisations, including the Afrapix collective of activist photographers, and in 2015 had his career retrospective was exhibited in New York at the Walther Collection Project Space.

In 2016 the panel of international judges that awarded him the Fondazione Fotografia Modena/Sky Arte HD prize said his work was an “uncompromising … account of the question of black identity and integration between communities”.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Mofokeng’s family did not disclose the cause of his death, saying only that it would conduct a private funeral followed by a public memorial.

Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Giles Elgood

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