The Day I Went To FNB Stadium

On Sunday 18th May 2014 Instagrammers around the world gathered in hundreds of cities for the ninth World-Wide InstaMeet. In Johannesburg this happened at the FNB Stadium and I was there.
Do I need to mention this is the stadium where the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final was played? With that done let us move on. It was a glorious afternoon and over two hundred people came out.
Having never been to the stadium before and being a fan of architecture I was looking forward to this for weeks and I was mightily impressed. I arrived at about 3:00p.m. and immediately started looking for interesting shots. We were soon ushered in and after some housekeeping, group photos and announcement of the rules we were let lose on the stadium. There was a stadium tour and I thought, what better way to see the stadium, a great decision. Here is my story.

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This is probably still my favourite shot from the day. That's @radhiyyah07
This is probably still my favourite shot from the day. That’s @radhiyyah07

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Editing time in Long Exposure.
Editing time in Long Exposure.
The light in here is simply something to marvel at.
The light in here is simply something to marvel at.

 

A black and white edit of my favourite shot.
A black and white edit of my favourite shot.
Made a new friend on the day, this is Nadine, follow her on Instagram @nadeynay.
Made a new friend on the day, this is Nadine, follow her on Instagram @nadeynay.

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The interior orange colour of the stadium symbolises a pumpkin.
The interior orange colour of the stadium symbolises a pumpkin.
Deep in the belly of the calabash.
Deep in the belly of the calabash.

 

My initial take on the stadium facade, one of the most interesting buildings I have ever visited.
My initial take on the stadium facade, one of the most interesting buildings I have ever visited.
The view of the instameet  from way up high in the VIP section.
The view of the instameet from way up high in the VIP section.
Meet our host Ephraim, the most engaging and entertaining man you would ever want to meet. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of FNB Stadium.
Meet our host Ephraim, the most engaging and entertaining man you would ever want to meet. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of FNB Stadium.
Having some dreamy Long Exposure fun in the entrance area.
Having some dreamy Long Exposure fun in the entrance area.

All in all a highly rewarding day hosted by Stadium Management South Africa. They offer guided tours of the stadium available by appointment and also hire out sections of the stadium for events. If you are in Johannesburg and appreciate architecture this is definitely something to add to your list. For more photos from the day on instagram follow the hashtags #wwim9 #SMSA #FNBStadium and #wwim9_jhb. As usual all photos are taken and edited on my Apple iPhone 5, remember to follow me too on @rickyemarima.

 

Igers Playing With Fire And Chasing Lights

What a weekend! I have really taken to photography lately and this past weekend found me exploring this even more. Following last weekend’s instameet in Maboneng I was really looking forward to two events, a long exposure workshop with Joburg photographer Adam Deane on Saturday night and the World-Wide Instameet at FNB Stadium on Sunday afternoon, both did not disappoint.Organisers of both events really did well to promote them on Instagram and turnout was way beyond my expectations.

As the sun set on Saturday we gathered on the roof of Rosebank Mall for a night time long exposure class. I didn’t know that people like Adam Deane existed who are willing to share their time and their skill with everyone. This is definitely one of those activities to put on the list of things to do in Johannesburg. Having only started light tracing the other week I was keen to learn more and i did, besides, the kid in me was happy to play with matches, sparklers and flares without Mom chasing me around the house.

After a brief introduction, safety precautions and some useful information we were paired off and let loose to make fire. I partnered with Darren, not quite a novice like me he was very prepared with a whole range of flammable equipment and here is the result of our collaboration.

 

Man make fire! My attempt to turn myself into a fire lantern.
Man make fire! My attempt to turn myself into a fire lantern.
My collaborator Darren trying not to set himself on fire.
My collaborator Darren trying not to set himself on fire.
Using a floodlight as an alternate light source yielded much brighter results.
Using a floodlight as an alternate light source yielded much brighter results.
I guess we got carried away a bit here
I guess we got carried away a bit here

After this we moved down to the street to try our hands at light-tracing, something I was a little more familiar with.

Light-tracing on Oxford Street.
Light-tracing on Oxford Street.

I had to leave the class early but on my way home I decided to try something on my own.

Standard Bank's newest high-rise on Oxford Road Rivonia
Standard Bank’s newest high-rise on Oxford Road Rivonia
My after-class experiment.
My after-class experiment.

It was a fun and informative night with good people and I would recommend you look up Adam Deane Photography if you’re in the Johannesburg area. You can find him on Instagram as @adp_86 and the hashtag #adpteaches or http://adeanephoto.com.

Look out for my next blogpost on the Johannesburg World wide Instameet.

Sandton City in Long Exposure 1

 

 

 

Last week in the hours of Thursday morning before dawn I went to Sandton City in Northern Johannesburg to try and capture the sunrise in long exposure. These are the results without any editing. All shots are on my iPhone 5 using the SlowShutter app available for 99c in the AppStore. For more of my photography follow me on Instagram on @rickyemarima.

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Igers Are Some Of The Coolest People I’ve Never Met

 

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Last Saturday in Johannesburg’s Maboneng Precinct I finally got to do something I have been intending for the last three months or so, My wife and I went on an instawalk. What is an instawalk you may ask? Allow me to explain.

We both recently got into Instagram, I more than her, and as social networking goes we started making connections with people who share our photographic interests. An instawalk or instameet is where instagrammers get together and tour an area taking, editing and posting photographs of what they see and do. This was our first instawalk & I have to say, it was quite an experience.

Imagine a first date with someone you’ve been corresponding with for a while but have never met, except it’s a whole lot of people and you’re not really sure what any of you look like. The day arrives and as you approach the venue you start looking out for sort of familiar faces as the reality dawns on you that you may actually have to talk to these people, AWKWARD! Then you’re there, everybody seems to know everybody else except you and you’re just happy you came with someone you know. You introduce yourself to the first person who’s eye you catch:

Me: Hi I’m Ricky and this is Nomhle.

Paula: Hi I’m Paula.

Me thinking: Now do I know you,have we chatted, what’s your handle?

Me: Hey, so Paula, how does this all work?

Paula: Go over to Alessio, he’s signing up people at the table there.

Me. Ok, thanks.

Me: Woah there’s a lot more people here than I expected.

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We go to sign up but find the indemnity forms have run out but we like living dangerously & figure why the heck not, we doing this. A voice then calls out for attention, it’s Alessio giving instructions for the walk, first some housekeeping rules:

Stay with the group, this is Joburg remember?

Whilst we have security for the walk your safety should be your first concern & organisers are not liable for theft or injury whilst you’re walking these mean streets.

Celebrate Freedom is the theme for the instameet and First National Bank have somehow inserted themselves into this. Alessio suggests we mention them in our posts but stresses that it’s entirely optional, then we’re off. No name tags, no introductions just a mob of thirty or so people heading down Fox Street clicking away. I realise this is not a social but about getting the shot and i start looking for ideal ones. Once I start taking photos I settle and the initial awkwardness is forgotten, to my pleasant surprise Nomhle is getting into it too and now it starts to be fun.

I try to not follow the crowd too closely not taking the obvious shots, looking for what everyone else is missing. This is hard when you remember some people here have over one hundred thousand followers and are professional photographers. But then this is Instagram and it’s not about who shot it best but about how people relate to what you shoot, edit and post. As we wind through Maboneng this becomes more apparent and I start to appreciate various people’s techniques and even imitate one or two. I brought along my tripod and I’m looking for where I can set up a long exposure shot or a short video, no luck on the shot but I do shoot and post a video.

Time flies by and it starts getting dark so Alessio calls everyone in for a group shot and by then we all mostly friendly with each other so the smiles are genuine. After the group shot people slowly make their way back to their cars but some die-hards, me included, are still looking for that one great shot of the day.

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When Nomhle and I get home that evening we start editing and posting a few shots waiting to see what everyone else is posting. I’m impressed by the multitude of views people can have of the same subject, Celebrate Freedom. If you would like to see for yourself and are on Instagram search for #celebratefreedom.

As fate would have it, one of Nomhle’s photos was featured the very next day on @cityofjohannesburg, a photo feature gallery, now we thinking she may have a previously unexplored talent. If you would like to participate in an instameet there may be one in your city this very weekend. Instagram celebrates its ninth global instameet this weekend in cities and towns around the world. If you’re in South Africa check out @igerssouthafrica or #WWIM9 for information on other countries and cities, for those in Johannesburg come out to FNB Stadium this Sunday afternoon at 3:30p.m.

If you’ve been wondering what an instameet involves consider yourself informed so go out there and have some fun, you might even make a few new friends. If you’re not on Instagram this might her a good way to get into it, also, people here are a lot friendlier than on twitter and you can follow me too on @rickyemarima.

 

To Kill An African Dream

Dreams do not die in an instant, once they start to fade they linger for a time as the dreamer struggles to keep them alive, denying the inevitable. When they do die it is not with the intensity of the death of a thousand suns but the flickering of a candle wick drowning in what once gave it life, it’s own wax.

Recently I was reminded of Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s ascendancy to the Chairperson of the African Union when she garnered more votes than Gabon’s Jean Ping after a very tough voting process in 2012. Most in South Africa’s delegation celebrated this as a victory with dancing and singing once the final vote was in to the dismay of other delegates who thought this behaviour bordered on hubris. Maite Nkoane-Mashabane, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations, was at pains to explain that this is how things are done back home and this was not meant to be disrespectful of the outgoing Mr. Ping or other delegates, unfortunately the damage had already been done. Rumblings about South African arrogance and unsportsmanlike conduct in the AU Chairperson electoral process were rife and even today these sentiments have never quite abated.

On Sunday South Africa’s ruling African National Congress held their final rally before Wednesday 07 May’s general election. It was billed as a victory rally, oddly enough, for an election yet to happen. I come from a school of thought that dictates, no matter how sure a sure thing is, you don’t pop the champagne till the deed is done, it appears the ANC of today does not subscribe to this. Whilst it is plausible to argue that an ANC majority in the general election is a foregone conclusion, should it be seen as a win & if the result is in their favour, should this be celebrated as a victory? If indeed it is a victory then it stands to reason that there is at least one loser and if so who is or are the losers & what have they lost? I will return to this later.

In 1990 when Nelson Mandela was released from prison an entire continent breathed a sigh of relief. I was in high school in Zimbabwe and 11 February was declared a public holiday in honour of the momentous occasion. As I grew up and started to better understand the political legacy of my country and the continent, I began to grasp the enormity of the expectation placed upon the world’s newest democracy at the time. In Mandela was a chance for a nation to change the African stereotypes of institutionalised corruption, intransigent leadership, human rights abuses and selective application of democratic principles. As everyone knows this was for the most part South Africa under Mandela and that after him the rainbow started to tarnish ever so slightly.

As somewhat of an outsider on the inside, as I spend a lot of my time here, I agree with the view that in the years following Mandela’s retirement in 1999 fractures began to appear in the South African rainbow. Some Afro-pessimists said South Africa would quickly go the way of all other African countries because there was really nothing special about the transition to democracy, that once Mandela died the country would burn. Whilst nothing as extreme as that has happened since Mandela passed on in December, events of at least the last five years have brought to the fore the fact that South Africa has significant governance shortcomings and it’s ruling party have adopted some of the unsavoury traits of stereotypical African leadership.

In the run-up to tomorrow’s elections allegations of the conflation of party and state by the African National Congress have become increasingly concerning with state resources allegedly used by the party in its campaigns culminating in a story this morning of an ANC election agent being found with ballot papers in his home, allegedly for safekeeping. All this whilst the Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Pansy Tlakula has been embroiled in allegations of impropriety which simply won’t go away.

All this has contributed to tarnishing the dream that was South Africa for the rest of the continent. Whilst there is some truth to the claim that Africans in general aspire to South Africa’s level of economic sophistication it is also true that many Africans aspired to the dream of 1994 of an exemplary nation that made respect of the rule of law and protection of all who live in it paramount. This  is where South Africa has failed Africa, killing the dream of hundreds of millions leaving us to grapple with the disbelief that if the dream is no more, what hope is there for the rest of us? If South Africa with all its resources, global goodwill and the best constitution in the world can get so caught up in “African problems” what hope do the rest of us have with our leaders’ lack of appreciation for democratic principles?

This brings me back to the ANC’s “victory” rally on Sunday. Whilst elections are about raising emotions as politicians look to keep their jobs, ruling parties are often prone to developing a sense of entitlement treating elections as a slight distraction from business as usual. I for one hoped this fate would not befall South Africa but it has. For a party to declare the result a foregone conclusion so blatantly reminds me of ZANU Pf’s star rally in Zimbabwe’s 2013 general elections on the last Sunday of campaigning at a packed National Sports Stadium in Harare. This was not my dream for South Africa.

An election is a chance for the people to make their voices heard by voting into office those who can best represent their interests. An election is a chance for elected officials to account to the people for what they have done with their mandate. This is no longer the case instead you have career politicians who put themselves and their needs ahead of the nation and allegiance to a President above all else. This presents the danger that those who did not vote for the ruling party and do not adopt its views run the risk of being marginalised from state resources, already such claims have been widespread at local government level in municipalities not governed by the ANC or where communities have expressed displeasure with the party. When a political party has a victory celebration before a single vote is cast in the country what message does this send to the citizenry?

The Freedom Charter, one of the founding documents of the country drawn up by leading minds of the fight for democratic rule in June 1955 under the umbrella movement the Congress Of the People, proclaims “South Africa belongs to all who live in it”. One wonders just how this will be possible in the current political climate, how will the interests of those who do not support the ruling party be protected? It is one thing to have the best constitution ever written but it is quite another to live by it every single day. If they can disenfranchise their own citizens how will this government protect the interests of migrants who can’t vote but have made a life in this country? The selective application of tenets of this supreme law is what has left many an African nation broken. This has seen Botswana rise as a moral beacon replacing South Africa, in my view a much more significant setback than being ranked the second biggest African economy after Nigeria. Inappropriate comments about other African countries by the President and ministers in his cabinet do not inspire confidence.

The greatest achievement of apartheid was to separate the South African mentally from Africa by creating a fear of black Africa which is pervasive across all races to this day. This fear has become even more entrenched since 1994 and is unfortunately not taken seriously by any political party. It is this fear, not arrogance, that causes South Africans to project themselves the way they do across the continent and it continues to entrench a horrible apartheid legacy. As South Africa goes to the polls tomorrow I wonder how many citizens realise just how important this vote is to Africa and the immense consequences their actions will have throughout the continent. I honestly hope I am wrong and the dream is not dead, that South Africa will find its moral compass and restore its position as a true African success story, dragging all of us into the light that is unfettered democracy and real economic freedom.