Project Spotlight: Ilizwi Photo Club

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" My Camera has now become a part of my life. It is now my weapon of change"  -Athini Mbiko (2011 Ilizwi Photographer)


Once a year Greenpop , the tree planting power force of all things green in South Africa, hosts an event in Zambia called Trees for Action. Hosted in Livingstone, the three week event brings people together from around the globe to plant thousands of trees, learn, connect, give back, grow and get active. I joined them last year and was lucky enough to meet the students and organisers of Ilizwi Photo club, an exiting bunch of talented young photographers working to become actively involved in their communities and tell the stories that matter most to them. Through photojournalism we are able to gain an insight to societies needs and values, it is such a valuable tool in making sense of the world around us and I was very lucky to meet with some of the students to gain an insight into their lives. 


 "Photography is one of the most important parts of journalism because it reaches people so powerfully. It’s quicker, it’s more visceral than text. Photography is immediate.” ~ Geneva Overholser, Director, School of Journalism, USC Annenberg School for Communication

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Founded in 2011, Ilizwi Photo Club works with young people in under-resourced communities by encouraging creative self-expression through photography and socially informative youth media pieces. What really resonated with me was their idea that people (especially youth) and communities are often portrayed in a stereotypical, negative fashion, and stories in the news are rarely more than crime reports. What Ilizwi does is create a space for the youth to tell their own stories from their perspective. Cameras in hand the photographers from various schools in Khayelitsha Township, Cape Town and the sister project in Livingstone ,Zambia the youngsters are put through a course guided by experienced professional photographers and produce a body of work that is exhibited and sold to give them a potential start in generating an income and turning a passion into a potential career. Below is a selection of some of the students photography and stories around their portfolio projects- I hope you get as much inspiration from them as I did. Unfortunately I could not get hold of all the write ups from their exhibition in Livingston, but I still wanted to show off some of the photography. 


You can support these young up and coming photographers by hiring their services or purchase the students' photographs, something I remember being a great help to me for extra cash when I first started out way back when. Contact Meghan Sinesipho Daniels at meghan@ilizwiphotoclub.co.za.


 Well done to these young people and I look forward to seeing their images across the media space in the future. 

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Jacob M Makono 20 years

Livingstone

‘The North West Mansion is an old ruined building that was originally built in the 1900’s. The building’s initial purpose was to serve as a train station and it was later transformed into a hotel. This project focuses on the history of the building, it’s structures and how it has reinvented itself over a period of 114 years.’ My choice to photograph this building was inspired by the fact that it has always stood out and grabbed my attention whilst walking around town. This ongoing fascination prompted me to take a closer look at it and learn more. 

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Matthews Mutemwa 19 years

Livingstone 
I find Jackson’s story inspiring. He thought about his life and decided to work to improve it rather than fall to drinking and bad groups. He is a good example to the young people of this town. It is too easy to blame the parents when we can each work towards improving our own lives. 

‘My name is Jackson and I am 23 years old. I am a painter. I started painting when I was 16 years old because my parents couldn’t afford to pay for my school fees. When I was young my Father used to take me with him to the place where he painted himself and taught me some of the required techniques. I always wanted to be like him. My Father stopped painting because he got too old and couldn’t work anymore to pay for my school fees. I then stayed out of school for three years, until one day I said to myself that I cannot live without an education, that I should use some of the skills that I got from my Father. I started painting to raise money in order to go back to school. Now I am happy that I am able to go to school and pay for my own school fees. It sometimes feels like I am living a double life as I need to go to school and I need to go to work. Yet I am proud to be able to find a balance between school and work.’

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Mathews Mutemwa 

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Irene Ngandu 

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Steve Chikwa

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Photographers in action, I wish I could show more of the photographs of these lovely talented guys, but alas you will have to go an join Ilizwe on one of their courses to see more of these guys in action. They will be at Trees for Zambia from the 28th of June to the 19th July. 

Time for a road trip. 

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