South Africa’s transformation to democracy in 1994 was applauded worldwide and for a time it served as a role model for other nations in flux. However, as the years have gone by and the realities of the challenges of a changing nation have set in, South Africa has fallen from its state of grace. The country’s failure to live up to the ideal of a ‘rainbow nation’ has been blamed on phenomena such as corruption, crime and ineffective leadership.
In this photographic essay I focus on subjects that lack any particular point of interest or by choosing the un-decisive moment within scenes, the viewer’s attempt to find clarity within the image, is thwarted. The images purposefully imitate and, at the same time, negate the fallacies inherent in the promotional tourist publications of the 60s and 70s. These showcased the best of Sunny South Africa, with its clean beaches, abundant wildlife and a culture that had more in common with Europe than Africa.
The lack of narrative within and between the images in this photographic essay is intended as a reflection of both the country’s external decay, as well as the internal, emotional turmoil and fragmentation that living in an uncertain society evokes.
The scenes photographed are commonplace, but are framed in a manner that lacks both finesse and logical thought. This approach mirrors the rudderless course that the country has followed and the oft lack of forethought and seeming logic applied to facing the challenges of the future.
The title of the essay is drawn from a poem written by C. J. Langenhoven. The poem, Die Stem van Suid-Afrika (The Call of South Africa) was the national anthem of South Africa during the apartheid era and has, since 1994, shared national anthem status with Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, a traditional hymn used by the African National Congress (ANC). The continued use of this poem with its promise of ‘the golden warmth of summer’, suggests a counterpoint to the reality of apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa.