“Being a photographer is such a privilege, because it allows you to enter spaces, places, and other people’s lives in a way that you ordinarily never could. This is something for which I’m always grateful, and of which I try to be respectful.”
As soon as Nyani discovered photography he quickly abandoned his former career to become a full time photographer.
He refers to himself as a 'hybridized African' having been born in India to a Ghanaian father and Filipino mother and having lived in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Canada, Australia, the USA and Ghana, in addition to exploring the long list of countries where his work and his travels have taken him.
As a self-taught photographer, Nyani has established an impressive professional career in the medium. He is a member of Panos Pictures and has worked for numerous high-profile international clients including the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), UNICEF, Save the Children, The Guardian, Médecins Sans Frontières and many more.
Nyani joins Sony Global Imaging Ambassadors program with a #FutureofCities story from Hillbrow, Johannesburg.as a 'hybridized African' having been born in India to a Ghanaian father and Filipino mother and having lived in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Canada, Australia, the USA and Ghana, in addition to exploring the long list of countries where his work and his travels have taken him.
About / Biography
Nyani is a photographer based in Ghana and a member of Panos Pictures.
He describes his work as “hinging on the sameness [he] sees in all of us”.
What inspired you to shoot this story for the #FutureofCities campaign?
Johannesburg is one of my favourite cities—I feel instantly at home every time I visit.
It’s also a place that intrigues me because South Africa is an incredibly complex society—there are so many ethnicities, sub-cultures, economic disparities and worldviews, set against the backdrop of the legacy of apartheid. Within this broader context, inner-city Johannesburg is a patchwork of the most incredible contrasts, all within the space of a few minutes’ walk from each other, and in many ways it’s a microcosm of the socio-economic challenges the nation faces. I was drawn to explore this, and along the way I found George Khosi and his boxing club.
It would be hard not to like George, and I respected his humble I’ll-do-what-I-can approach to rehabilitating his corner of the inner-city in his own way. I was also struck by the notion of positive transformation and the hope of a safer, more peaceful society deriving from the violence of the boxing ring.
How difficult was it gaining access to Hillbrow and it's residents? Were they welcoming?
Johannesburg in general is a fairly easygoing place, and I was certainly made welcome around the boxing club, and in many other places I shot in the city. However, at the same time, Hillbrow itself is not necessarily a place you just go strolling around in, particularly if you’re poking into dark corners.
I was lucky enough to find some rather companionable inside knowledge of the area in the form of Papi Mofokeng, who I met while he was working out in the gym at the boxing club, and he helped me find my way around the neighbourhood.
In your opinion, what would be a solution to Hillbrow’s social problems.
I’d say one of the obvious things that needs to change if Hillbrow is to have a real chance of renewal, is that it needs to get rid of the drugs. Hopefully this can be done in a sustainable way, rather than just pushing the trade out to other places.
Sony DSC-RX1R + leather half case
Sony FDA-EVM1K Electronic Viewfinder
4x Sony NP-BX1 batteries
B+W XS-Pro Clear MRC-Nano 007 filter
OP/TECH SLR wrist strap
Lexar and SanDisk memory cards
Think Tank SD Pixel Pocket Rocket
Old army surplus bag turned into a custom camera bag
Energy bars or biltong
Ankle wallet with spare cash and spare phone