If we’ve learned anything since the passing of Malick Sidibé on April 14, 2016, it’s that the legacy of the Malian photographer will live on. Okayafrica has teamed up with Johannesburg-based collective The Uncultured Club to honor the late legend.
For Anthony Bila, Nicholas Rawhani and Chisanga Mubanga of The Uncultured Club, Mr. Sidibé’s influence was subtle yet ubiquitous. “It was his relentless way of capturing the honesty of where he was in space and time” the young photographers tell us. “The Mali he saw transitioned from an oppressive regime to liberation and freedoms that weren’t enjoyed in that country. He photographed people coming into their own, a unique culture that was developing in unique times.”
The collective feel they’re working to photograph a similar narrative in South Africa. “The South Africa we capture as The Uncultured Club is unchartered territory,” they say. “We get to see a ‘born-free’ generation express themselves with a freedom that just didn’t exist 22 years.”
On a Sunday morning in April, the collective set out to photograph the residents and passersby of the Johannesburg suburb of Yeoville. They were met with an interesting cross-section of church-goers, hawkers, children and their parents and late night partiers. “It was a melting pot of Africans from all parts of the continent. We really just wanted to capture an honest moment in the lives of the people of Yeoville.”
The shoot was something different for the photographers. “It was real people in the real world with reservations about strangers photographing them,” they note. “There was a kindness, innocence and joy to the people that were willing to be photographed that invoked a sense of appreciation in us.”
“Mr. Malick was a great photographer and we now have a different, really a deeper appreciation of what he dedicated his life’s work to: photographing the Africa that the world seemingly doesn’t want to acknowledge. He was not a poverty porn photographer, he was a storyteller through images, and the honesty, joy and sensitivity with which he approached his subject matter is something we photographers could all learn from, to never rob anyone of their dignity for the sake of an award-winning photograph. Never to simplify the narrative to pander to people’s prejudices.”
“Mr. Sidibé’s work has played a part in us being able to see this continent past the veneer of the west that so plagues not only their vision, but the vision of Africans too.”
Scroll down to see the full series, Pour Malick, shot by The Uncultured Club exclusively for Okayafrica.