Pour Malick: A Photographic Tribute To The Late Malian Legend, Malick Sidibé

The Uncultured Club and Okayafrica team up to pay tribute to the late Malian photo legend Malick Sidibé in the streets of Johannesburg.

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.

Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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