After Apartheid: Reflecting on South Africa 20 Years Later

Per-Anders Pettersson
Per-Anders Pettersson
A mans cuts his beard outside his home in Khayelitsha, the biggest black township outside, Cape Town, South Africa, 2002.

Per-Anders Pettersson began documenting South Africa in 1994 when the country entered its first free elections that made Nelson Mandela its president. His Latest book Rainbow Transit (Dewi Lewis, 2013) looks back at the hopeful yet turbulent times of a country undergoing an epic transition. Pettersson’s work will appear in TIME’s commemorative edition celebrating Mandela and here, the photographer shares about the work in his own words:

For South Africa, democracy was a hard-won freedom. Its rewards came alongside a soaring violent-crime rate, disease, poverty and massive unemployment. I first went to South Africa in the spring of 1994 to cover the election won by Nelson Mandela; I stayed for two decades to document a nation in transition.

Places like Soweto are changing rapidly because of massive investments through private and public funding. Its residents travel to and from work via upgraded taxi stations. They shop in upmarket malls, go to the movies, visit world-class theaters. South Africa’s policies of black economic empowerment reaped astonishing wealth for a new black elite and saw the rapid emergence of a black middle class.

But during the second decade, greed and disillusion began to smother this hope. In these photographs, I sought to portray the heady sense I felt of a latter-day gold rush, the energy and the optimism often forgotten.


Per-Anders Pettersson, born in Sweden, is an award-winning photojournalist based in South Africa.

Rainbow Transit was published by Dewi Lewis.


Related Topics: , , , ,

Latest Posts

The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson is back in print

The Return of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Decisive Moment

For 62 years, only the most fortunate of photographers and photo book collectors could peruse Henri Cartier-Bresson's masterpiece The Decisive Moment. This is about to change as German publisher Steidl is putting the finishing touches to the book's first ever reprint

Read More
A girl looks out from a sleeping compartment on a new train preparing to leave from Basra to Baghdad, the only passenger rail service currently operational in Iraq.

Photojournalism Daily: Oct. 22, 2014

Contrasto

How 12 Exhibitions, Two Museums and One Gallery Changed Photography Forever

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 17,614 other followers