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​Joburg is ‘safe and affordable​
Santu Mofokeng​​He has been to the fairest Cape and exhibited in Beijing's fabled Forbidden City, but for photographer Santu Mofokeng, Joburg is always home. My umbilical cord is here, he says simply.

'My umbilical cord is here; I'm rooted here, my kids are here,' he says.

Born in the city in 1956, he began his career in 1973 as a street photographer. While involved in the 1976 riots in Soweto, he began to understand 'photography's subversive potential' when viewing pictures of the 16 June uprising, according to the Standard Bank Gallery website.

Mofokeng's latest exhibition, entitled Invoice: chasing shadows, magic and disease, ended its run at the gallery on 17 March.

He started out in 1981 as a darkroom assistant at Beeld and Citizen newspapers, and at the Chamber of Mines. In 1985 he joined the Afrapix Collective, an independent photographic agency that specialised in documenting popular resistance to apartheid.

He also spent seven years at the New Nation newspaper, by which time he had developed his own style, focusing on life under apartheid for urban blacks. He was also a researcher and documentary photographer at the Wits Institute for Advanced Social Research for 10 years.

Invoice, curated in 2006, includes photographs from virtually Mofokeng's whole body of work, starting in 1982 up until 2006, and coincides with his 50th year. Images of life in townships, tenant farmers in rural Bloemhof and followers of the Zionist Apostolic Church in the Motouleng Caves in the Free State appear in the exhibition. Since 2000 Mofokeng has turned his camera to landscapes.


Although Mofokeng says he doesn't go out much he describes himself as a hermit he says he feels comfortable in Joburg. 'I know how to navigate the place.'

He lives in Bez Valley, which 'is safe'. He's an insomniac and walks the streets in the middle of the night, again which is safe.

Mofokeng is recognised locally and internationally for his work. He has won several awards and in 1991 won the Ernest Cole Scholarship, allowing him to study at the International Centre for Photography in New York.

He has had several solo exhibitions and collaborative and group exhibitions all over the world. In 2004 he was chosen as one of the 10 leading photographers in the world to exhibit work at Beijing's Forbidden City International Photography Festival. He has curated three exhibitions, two of them international.

Mofokeng has been to Durban and Cape Town - but chooses to return to Joburg, to come back home.​