Visual Journalism Group Leader at the Poynter
the surface he is just what he says that he wants people to
see him as "an ordinary guy hard working guy." "I am an African."
Hadebe, the 32 year-old, Johannesburg, South Africa based,
Associated Press staff photographer. He is a '98 World Press
winner in the spot news category and the eldest for five siblings,
raised in the hard working community of Thokoza, some 20-30
kilometer east of Johannesburg.
most ordinary South African children, he was energetic and
curious, but he never wanted to be in pictures. "I guest what
made me a little extraordinary was the fact that I always
wanted to take the picture, not be in it," recalls Hadebe.
His real love affair with photography began at the age of
13 when his stepfather gave him a first camera as a gift.
"Man, I loved that camera," Hadebe explained, "I would take
pictures of anything going on around me, that meant something
by the mixed messages in his county caused by the apartheid
government and by his mother and teacher. Because of the cost
and family financial challenges his mother discouraged his
photography pursuits. "I needed to make money, it was that
simple" On the otherhand, his teachers and his heart told
him that he could not become a photographer. For Hadebe, "the
serious, financial problems and challenges were the priority."
closer and you will see the Habebe that he wants you to know.
He is African and his journey is not ordinary. The experience
of his life are dramatically captured in the May 8, 1996 ---
Statement on Behalf of the African National Congress, on the
occasion of the adoption by the Constitutional Assembly of
The Republic of South Africa's Constitutional Bill, by (then
vice-president) Thabo Mbeki "I have seen the destruction of
all sense of self-esteem, the consequent striving to be what
one is not, simply to acquire some of the benefits which those
who had imposed themselves as masters had ensured that they
enjoy. I know what it signifies when race and colour are used
to determine who is human and who subhuman."
closer look reveals a rather extraordinary journey for a man
who wants desperately to tell the true story of his people.
"I am an African and I want people to see the positive stories
of my country." "In my town, I saw James Nachtwey and David
Turnley, lots of photographers came to cover the bad trouble,
but I was inspired by Peter Magubane and Alf Khumalo." After
reading Magubane's story in the library in 1993, Hadebe decided
to stand up to the family disapproval of his career choice.
"I want to tell a more complete side of our story, in southern
Africa like they started."
attended the Market Photo Workshop, and was mentored by Sunday
Independent photographer, TJ Lemon and made his living "doing
weddings. and anything that people will pay me for." He later
landed a trainee position in 1994 at The Mail and Guardian
then joined The Johannesburg Star in 1995.
May 1999 he joined the Associated Press and has traveled extensively
in southern African and was most recently in the Congo.
closer inspection, one would learn that after winning the
World Press honor in 1998, which he says, "was an unbelievable
experience that boosted my confidence," he attended the World
Press Masters course in 2000 which was by his account "quite
and experience and it gave me another perspective. I was with
people that do respect photography, unlike in Africa." I was
exposed to the European perspective and the fine art influence."
loves to learn and his works reflect a commitment to lifelong
learning. And in his own unique was, it show that--- he is
Irby is the Visual Journalism Group Leader at the Poynter
Institute for Media Studies, an international school for journalists.
He is a photographer, picture editor and educator and teaches
visual journalism course around the world. Kenny and Themba
met in November of 1998. While on a teaching trip to in Johannesburg
at the Institute for Advancement in Journalism, he interviewed
Themba and was so impressed with his potential that he deliver
Themba's work to Vin Alabiso, Sr. VP/ Executive Photo Editor
at the Associated Press.
Themba Hadebe's Photo Presentation