“I have a name” is an incredible photo series showcasing everyday South Africans in the most phenomenal way. Proudly South African… one story at a time.
I’ve been on the lookout for her since I started this page just over a month ago. She can usually be found ‘working’ the traffic lights at the intersection of Leslie and William Nicol. A small lady, wheelchairbound , shaking a small rusted tin can , accompanied by a sober faced teenage boy.
Her name is Maria Sante. With introductions over I quickly realise that her English is almost non existent and I struggle to piece together her story until a kind construction worker comes over and translated for us.
‘We live in Alex, it’s just Johnny and me. My grandson Johnny is 15, his parents are dead….he does not go to school. We come from Zimbabwe. I was in an accident. A bus and a taxi …”kapppooof” ” she shows me smashing her right fist into her left hand . I lost my legs. Before I got the wheelchair from the clinic, I was crawling around, dragging myself over the ground with my hands. ”
She points to the right wheel, ” I have only this one and this wheel is starting to give problems now.”
I ask permission to take her picture and to share it … *click* the shutter opens and shuts…I look at the photo … drawn face, sad eyes. I show her the picture on the back display of the camera…and then…the most unexpected response ever!
She BURSTS out laughing! Not just a smile – big belly laugh kind of laughing.. There we are on the roadside, all three of us , Maria, Johnny and me… enjoying a moment of shared joy. I quickly snap some pictures of her transformed face – night and day…what a smile can do.
“I Have A Name” is a space where an anonymous photographer (we’ll call her J) is taking photos of everyday South Africans to showcase their incredible stories.
How do we bridge the great South African divides? Black vs white, young vs old, rich vs poor, men vs women? The divides that keep us from making eye contact with the beggar standing on the street corner, or the stranger in the lift.
CS Lewis said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”
Come with me on a journey…the stories and names behind the faces of everyday South Africans living their life in your neighbourhood, on your streets.
I think you will discover that we have a lot in common.