100 Years after Mandela's birth
“Free yourself” is a series of portraits made in one of the oldest township of the Western Cape in South Africa, called Vrygrond. I focus on the young generation, born in the 1990s, who grew up with hopeful anticipation for a better life than their parents who lived under apartheid. In reality, they are faced with a corrupt government and a difficult situation in the townships where unemployment, crime, and drug abuse is high. While apartheid may have ended, its consequences are still part of daily life.
I show young people who fight against their circumstances, according to the principles of Mandela: “Free yourself, free others, serve every day.” By developing their talents, they are lifting themselves out of poverty. They have become role models for the youngsters in their community and make a positive contribution to society.
Some have started social projects to keep youngsters off the street.
Although these young people play an important role in the community, their talents and achievements often remain under the radar. This is often due to the living conditions in Vrygrond and the lack of access to networks.
Through these photographs I hope to let them briefly stand on a stage that rises up from the unpolished background of the township. Each of the people featured in these images is strong, proud, and self-confident in a unique and authentic way. These young people are the future of South Africa and they are making a change. They might even be an inspiration to all of us.
Vrygrond, Cape Town, South Africa, 2018
The series was published in National Geographic Magazine NL and different Inflight magazines in South Africa.
Click on the image to read the story of the person