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The black and white fifties: Jurgen Schadeberg’s South Africa

The black and white fifties: Jurgen Schadeberg’s South Africa

The black and white fifties: Jurgen Schadeberg’s South Africa wrenches moments and people right out of time, place and mood.
Schadeberg, Jurgen

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Titel: The Black and White fifties
Subtitle: Jurgen Schadeberg’s South Africa
Author: Vivien Allen
Publisher: Protea Boekhuis
First edition, second impression. Pretoria, South Africa 2006
ISBN 1919825711 / ISBN 1-919825-71-1
ISBN 9781919825717 / ISBN 978-1-919825-71-7
Hardcover, dustjacket, 28 x 28 cm, 125 pages, throughout b/w photos, text English


Foreword to 'The Black and White fifties: Jurgen Schadeberg’s South Africa': When I arrived in South Africa in 1950 from Germany I found two societies running parallel, without any communication whatsoever. There was an invisible wall between the two worlds. The black world or the "Non-European World", as described by white society, was culturally and economically rejected by the white world. In the fifties the black world was becoming culturally and politically very dynamic, whereas the white world seemed to me to be isolated, cocooned, colonial and ignorant of the black world. As a newcomer and outsider I managed quite easily to hop from one world to the other ... for example, in the evening I might photograph a white masked ball in the City Hall, the next morning an ANC Defiance Campaign meeting, or a shebeen in Sophiatown ... all followed by the Durban July horse race. On both sides of the fence there were ordinary people living their lives, getting married, enjoying themselves, making music and dancing.

Most people were ignorant of one another's worlds despite the fact that they were neighbours, sharing the same air. The political campaigns against apartheid laws in the early fifties were largely peaceful with an almost gentlemanly attitude between the government officials or Special Branch police and the political demonstrators. On one occasion a speaker standing on the platform at a political meeting even stopped his speech so that the Special Branch could reload his tape recorder. It was only in the late fifties and early sixties that clashes became more violent and more brutal. I freelanced for a number of magazines and photo agencies during the fifties decade, including Drum, Time Life and the SABC Radio, as well as selling my photos to German, French and American publications. We all believed that the apartheid government would not last, which, in a way, explains the naive enthusiasm which I think is portrayed in many of my pictures.