Photography has played a critical part in defining South African politics and culture. During apartheid, photographs were used as a tool by security police to monitor political activists. At the time, photographs also offered a powerful way to document the lives of everyday South Africans – their experiences of injustice, persecution, defiance and hope. Today, photography remains a critical means for exposing and challenging injustice. At the Open Society Foundations we strongly support socially engaged photography and acknowledge its potential to drive social change.
In 2015 the Open Society Foundation for South Africa (OSF-SA) launched its Inaugural Social Justice Photography Competition. We invited young African photographers to submit images that distil the essence of the work supported by OSF-SA, our grantees and partner organisations. Focusing on OSF-SA’s key thematic areas, the competition also aimed to provide a platform for emerging young photographers working in South Africa.
Our panel of judges included renowned South African photographer, Omar Badsha, the associate director of the the Open Society Foundation’s Documentary Photography Project, Yukiko Yamagata, executive director of OSF-SA, Fatima Hassan, and OSF-SA programme officer, Dimitri Selibas.
The winning body of work selected by the judges was Xoliswa Ngwenya’s photo-series “In My Solitude”.