A Multimedia
Presentation of
The Digital Journalist

Introduction by Hywell Waters

The majority of my photographs are intended to set out and illustrate visually some of the contrasts and similarities I found that exist between the west and east sides of Grahamstown, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. A storm run off drain separates these two economically unequal areas; however, political, social and economic developments have ensured to varying degrees that interactions between the two sides no longer occur solely on a racially unequal basis. Nevertheless class, cultural, architectural and landscape dissimilarities continue to permeate this town , like so many throughout South Africa. However, these differences were not my sole focus. The similarities are not as pronounced, but by looking at musicians, schools, cemeteries, street scenes and work places, I hoped to show that though our tasks are different our 'work' is the same.

Building on the 'work' theme, a number of the photographs submitted were focused on the land crisis which exists in Zimbabwe. I focused on the two different ways of farming, in other words, Commercial Farming and Communal/Subsistence farming. I set out to portray the diverse methods employed by a white Commercial farmer and a black communal farmer. The commercial farmer operates in Mashonaland Central Province while the subsistence farmer cultivates his three and a half acres in South Eastern Zimbabwe. The two farms are connected by the same water source which originates on the Commercial farm, and ultimately runs through the Subsistence farm, 350 kilometers away.

The significance of this portfolio, is that not only does it set out to show the contrasting factors that separate these two farms but also the commonalties that confront them. Since February of last year white Commercial farms in Zimbabwe have been invaded by "war-veterans" and landless people who have disrupted work, destroyed and stolen property worth millions. Seven commercial farmers and more than thirty workers have been killed, beaten and raped. Mobs of self-styled independence war veterans and supporters of the ruling Zanu PF party have chased away farmers from their properties. Other farmers, fearful for their lives have halted all farming activities, sparking fears of severe food shortages in Zimbabwe, which is primarily a food exporter. More than 20 000 jobs have already been lost in the agricultural sector as war veterans continue to disrupt farming operations. Thus, the white Commercial Farmer, an employer of hundreds of workers, is threatened by a political factor; the future of his farm and the eighty families that rely on it, appears bleak.

The Communal farmer is affected by a different factor; however, this has the same possible consequences as his commercial counterpart. In March of last year Cyclone Eline hit Southern Mozambique creating widespread devastation and flooding. These affects were also experienced in South Eastern Zimbabwe. The Subsistence Farmer who farms maize and cotton on the confluence of the Nyanyadzi, Odzi and Save Rivers could not plant his winter crops that season after the onslaught of the cyclone. For the past five months, he has been waiting in vain for his damaged pipes and pumps to be repaired by a government agency. He cannot work his fields, and thus the livelihood of his family of twelve is threatened. Unlike his commercial counterpart he is affected by a climatic phenomena; however, like the Commercial farmer, the Subsistence farmer's livelihood ultimately rests in the hands of a government fraught with division, corruption and mismanagement.

As a Zimbabwean, this situation has held particular significance for me; not only am I worried about my country's economy but its future in general. As a photographer I attempted to portray an objective understanding of those who work to feed and employ a nation, as well as a family.

My intention during these projects was not to humiliate by portraying ignorance, poverty and violence, as some journalistic sensation tends to do. Nor was it my intention to turn the people of Grahamstown and Zimbabwe into passive icons of wealth and poverty. Instead I attempted to show the humanistic qualities of life, as I saw them. I attempted to be impartial with regards to the sensitivity that I used to both sides, however true impartiality is a myth. My choice of subject matter, lighting, position of camera and so forth, influenced in some way the imagery I pursued. From the outset, my goal was not to take a completely objective stance, instead I strove for some truth and honesty when expressing what l perceive of my subjects.

The working methods I employ are simple so as to avoid unnecessary technicalities, thereby allowing me to concentrate on the subject being photographed. Most of the photographs in this submitted portfolio were shot with Pentax 67 bodies and lenses, however exploration with the 35mm format has been used to create some diversity and spontaneity. Generally, prints were made using full negative. Though I have nothing against minimal cropping, I did not want to change the overall structure and content of the picture as seen at the time of exposure.

Hywell Waters, 24, was born and bred in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe. He completed a Master's of Fine Art in Photography at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, and received many scholarships. His work has been published in magazines and newspapers in South Africa. In 1999, he was published in the catalogue of Internationaler Preis Fur Jungen Bildjournalismus (International Prize for Young Photojournalists). In addition, he was selected as one of twelve photographers around the world to participate in the 2000 World Press Masterclass held in the Netherlands. He is currently planning an exhibition to be held in Paris within the next six months as well as teaching in Zimbabwe while freelancing for the overseas market.

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