People order drinks at the bar at the Pirates Bowls Club in Johannesburg. One of the bands playing that night is Desmond and the Tutus.
Homeless Nonjabulo Ndzanibe (21) sits on the side walk on one of the rough areas of Durban, South Africa. To find shelter, she sometimes sleeps with men for money. “I wanted to get that fresh air,” Nonjabulo Ndzanibe (21) explains why she ran away from her unhappy childhood home to the coastal city of Durban. “I just needed space for myself.” Having grown up with a distant father – who spent part of her youth in prison – and a mother who she didn’t feel loved by, it seemed like a welcome escape when a friend invited her to come stay in Durban. Little did she know that her friend’s sister – with whom they were staying – was working as a prostitute, and expected Ndzanibe and her friend to start bringing in money as well. “If we didn’t come back with money, she would slap us.”
Piles of household goods lay on Jeppe street while Red Ants evict the residents of Monis place on Monday morning. The Red Ants are a South African private security company specialising in clearing “illegal invaders” from properties.
ALL WORKS ABOVE ARE FROM THE SERIES BORN FREE – MANDELA’S GENERATION OF HOPE (2019).
© Ilvy Njiokiktjien
FRAMING SOCIETY | Ilvy Njiokiktjien’s series Born Free (2019) illustrates that the legacy of centuries of inequality and the remnants of apartheid still exist in South African society today. Prior to the early 1990s, people were living in segregated grids and their rights and access to public spaces were determined by the colour of their skin. In 2007, during her work in South Africa, Ilvy Njiokiktjien became intrigued by the born-frees, the first generation born after apartheid.
Her extensive decade-long project, comprising hundreds of images a documentary and video clips, Born Free tells of struggle and resilience, but also of progression. It illustrates the Mandela generation from across the country and every layer of society: the rich and poor, black, white, Indian and coloured, city and rural, of different faiths and social and cultural groups. It also portrays the National Youth Policy, a vision for improving the lives of youths, that was drafted during Mandela’s presidency that paid special attention to groups such as young women, unemployed men, rural youth or people with HIV/Aids. Crime, poverty and corruption are still keeping many of the born-frees captive and many black South Africans are still disadvantaged, with fewer employment opportunities and lower wages than white people. However, South Africa is the only African country where gay marriage is legal.
The project has been supported by Det Obelske Familiefond, the City of Copenhagen and the Danish Arts Foundation.
Ilvy Njiokiktjien is an independent documentary photographer and multimedia journalist based in the Netherlands, represented by VII Photo Agency. She has worked worldwide, with a focus on Africa and covers current affairs and contemporary social issues. Her work has been published in a.i. The New York Times, Der Spiegel, NRC Handelsblad, Telegraph Magazine and Stern, and was exhibited at Visa pour l’Image in 2012. She received a Canon AFJ Award, two awards at World Press Photo and the first prize in POYi’s Issue Reporting Multimedia Story.
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ARTIST’S VIDEO INTRODUCTION
“What I hope to bring across with this project is that even though youth are usually a hopeful bunch, it still is a fact that due to the high youth unemployment the country is really at a struggle for a better future for their youth. I hope to show the hopeful side, but also the struggle they face.” – Ilvy Njiokiktjien on the most important thing to understand about Born Free – Mandela’s Generation of Hope.
Couple Ofentse Sean Lewis (27, l) and his fiancé Sipho Lewis Maestro Azzuro (24, r) sitting on the Nelson Mandela bridge in Johannesburg. From the series Born Free – Mandela’s Generation of Hope.
© Ilvy Njiokiktjien