The Way I See it – A Memoir

Jurgen Schadeberg
The Way I See It – A Memoir
By Jürgen Schadeberg
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
ISBN: 9781770105294

Photographer Jürgen Schadeberg was the man behind the camera of many of the photographs which are as familiar as they are iconic: Nelson Mandela gazing through the bars of his prison cell on Robben Island; a young Miriam Makeba smiling and dancing; Hugh Masekela as a schoolboy receiving the gift of a trumpet from Louis Armstrong; Henry ‘Mr Drum’ Nxumalo; the Women’s March of 1955; the Sophiatown removals; the funeral of the Sharpeville massacre victims. But Jürgen Schadeberg’s personal story is no less extraordinary. His affiliation with the displaced, the persecuted and the marginalised was already deep-rooted by the time he came to South Africa from Germany in 1950 and began taking pictures for the fledgeling Drum magazine. In this powerfully evocative memoir of an award-winning career spanning over 50 years – in Europe, Africa and the US – this behind-the-scenes journey with a legendary photojournalist and visual storyteller is a rare and special privilege.

Jurgen Schadeberg
Sharpeville Funeral, 1960
‘I chartered a light, fixed-wing plane and photographed the funeral from the plane as I felt this was the best way to show the magnitude of the event. This assignment was done on a freelance basis. ‘In March 1960, there was a countrywide campaign organised by the PAC (Pan African Congress) to defy the pass laws by publicly burning them in front of police stations. All Africans had to by law carry a Pass Book at all times, which limited their movement and therefore employment. In a small town called Sharpeville, the police fired on a fleeing crowd and 67 civilians, including women and children, were shot in the back and 150 were wounded.’
Jurgen Schadeberg
Nelson Mandela, Treason Trial, 1958
‘The then editor of Drum came rushing out of his office and requested a photographer to urgently rush to Pretoria… “something is going to happen… go yourself,” he said to me… just as I arrived in front of the Synagogue, the doors burst open and the accused emerged, lighting cigarettes. This took place on October 13th, 1958, when Mr Pirow, leader of the Crown team, withdrew the indictment against the accused. The Treason Trial had begun in 1956. A few months later, 30 of the 91 people were put on trial again, which lasted until March 29th, 1961, when they were all acquitted. In the picture, Mandela emerges beaming from the court, to his left is Moses Kotane, an ANC leader at the time.’
Jurgen Schadeberg
Nelson Mandela in his law office, 1952
‘He shared it with Oliver Tambo, in Chancellor House, opposite the Magistrate’s Court in Johannesburg. I went to photograph Mandela for Time Life with the writer Ted Hughes. Mandela was on his way out and had files under his arm and I asked if he could wait for a minute… he gave me two minutes and we talked on the way out.’
Jurgen Schadeberg
Mandela’s return to his cell on Robben Island, 1994
‘We believe it was Mandela’s first official visit after his release from prison in 1990 and obviously an emotional visit when he returned to the 2 x 2.5-metre cell where he spent 18 years of his 27-year sentence. ‘This was where he studied, did pushups and reflected on the goal of the liberation of his people. ‘He looked out of the bars and when he thought I had finished taking pictures, relaxed somewhat, and turned around to smile. ‘This assignment was done on an independent basis.’
Jurgen Schadeberg
While Jürgen Schadeberg was chief photographer, picture editor and art director with Drum magazine in the 1950s, he captured key personalities and events in the jazz and literary world. These included some of the greats of the Sophiatown jazz scene like Dolly Rathebe, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Kippie Moeketsi. The photographs show a young Makeba in a tight orange dress standing at a microphone. Taken in 1955 for Drum magazine.
Jurgen Schadeberg
Jürgen Schadeberg, Hamburg, Germany, 1948
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