Launched in Newtown on Tuesday, the book -- titled ‘June 16: 40th Anniversary Edition’ -- is a pictorial account of events that took place on the fateful day that marked a significant change in the discourse of South Africa’s push for liberation.
Speaking at his book launch, which was also attended by Communications Minister Faith Muthambi, the legendary photographer recounted how his life was affected by his work. Magubane was at the forefront of documenting the 1976 uprising.
“I was put in solitary confinement for 586 days and when they released me, they banned me. I could not work as a photographer and I could not leave my house… I had to be in the house all the time but I told myself that it’s not going to happen.
“I continued taking pictures, but one day they [police] caught up with me when I got home. I found my house in flames. I was not prepared to put down my camera and I am still not prepared to leave my camera now.
“I told myself that I want to be a good photographer… I want to show the world the brutality of the apartheid system in this country. I was prepared to die for what I was doing. I told myself that I am not going to be told by anyone not to take a picture… I will always make a way to take pictures,” he said.
Magubane said the book is a visual account of the brutality of the apartheid system and the resilience of the youth, who were determined to fight for their freedom.
The photos indeed take the reader through an emotional journey of the struggle and resistance against a system condemned by the world as a crime against humanity.
Struggle veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela wrote the foreword, while the text is written by seasoned former journalist, Joe Latakgomo.
The life and times of Peter Magubane
Peter Magubane’s coverage of the June 16 student uprising earned him worldwide acclaim and led to a number of international photographic and journalistic awards.
Magubane became an international icon of the struggle of journalists and photographers working under repressive regimes.
In 1986, he was awarded the American National Professional Photographers Association Humanistic Award in recognition of one of several incidents in which he put his camera aside and intervened to help prevent people from being killed.
Magubane worked for Time Magazine from 1978 and later freelanced for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Magubane was also President Nelson Mandela’s official photographer from the time he was released from prison until he became President.
Magubane has published 17 books, two of which were banned by the apartheid government -- ‘Black as I Am’ (with poetry by Zindzi Mandela) in 1978 and ‘Black Child’ in 1982.
This year’s National Youth Day will be commemorated at Orlando Stadium, Soweto, under the theme ‘Youth Moving South Africa forward’.