South African photojournalist Peter Magubane dies at 91
Peter Magubane, a renowned South African photojournalist who documented the struggles of black South Africans under apartheid for decades, died on Monday at the age of 91.
Magubane was one of the few black photographers working in South Africa during the apartheid era. His work helped to bring the brutality of the system to the world’s attention.
He joined the Drum magazine in 1955 and quickly gained prominence for his images of the everyday lives of black South Africans. One of his most iconic images, taken in 1956, shows a white girl sitting on a bench marked “Europeans Only” while a black maid sits behind her combing her hair.
In the 1960s, Magubane covered major events in the anti-apartheid struggle, including the arrest of Nelson Mandela and the Soweto uprising of 1976. His photographs of the uprising, in which police shot and killed hundreds of black students, helped to galvanize international support for the end of apartheid.
Magubane was regularly harassed, assaulted, and arrested by the South African government. He was also imprisoned for 586 days in solitary confinement in 1969.
Despite the persecution he faced, Magubane continued to document the struggle for freedom in South Africa. In 1990, he was appointed as the official photographer of Nelson Mandela after Mandela was released from prison.
Magubane’s work is considered to be an essential record of the apartheid era. His photographs helped to change the world and to bring about a more just South Africa.
In a statement, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said that Magubane was “a true patriot” who “dedicated his life to documenting the struggle for freedom in South Africa.”
Ramaphosa added that Magubane’s work “will continue to inspire generations to come.”