SARTORIAL LOOKS #27
PHOTODOCUMENTARY | ‘The Americans’, Sophiatown gangsters ca 1955 photo by Bob Gosani
Image courtesy of Bob Gosani, and Baily Seippel Gallery Johannesburg
Bob Gosani was born in 1934 in Johannesburg where he spent most of his life. Not much is known about his days before Drum – he joined in 1952 as a messenger, and later became darkroom assistant to Jurgen Schadeberg. Jurgen saw lots of potential in Bob and nurtured him to become one of South Africa’s most important and fearless photographers. In the spirit of Drum’s investigative nature Bob went on to capture some of our most iconic apartheid era images, notably of ‘women during the defiance campaign‘ and Nelson Mandela after the infamous treason trial. Much in the same way the Henry Nxumalo’s and Can Themba’s of Drum were exposing the inhumanities in society at the time through written language, Bob spoke out through his lense. His most popular and maybe even notorious piece in Drum was his expose on the demeaning ‘tauza’ dance that prisoners at ‘The Fort’ a prison in hillbrow,were forced to do. The dance involved them jumping up in the air and exposing their rectums for the wardens to inspect in order to ensure that no contraband was being smuggled into the prison. I feel sick to my stomach as I type this. Anyway, the feature received huge global outcry and stamped Bob Gosani as one of South Africa’s definitive social photographers.