February – June 2007
Ranjith Kally was born in Isipingo, Durban in 1925. His photography career began by accident when he came across a camera at a jumble sale, which he bought for six pence and taught himself to use. A few years later he started submitting pictures to the weekly newspaper, the Leader, and in 1952 won third prize out of 150,000 entries in an international Pentax camera competition, judged in Japan. Soon after he quit his day job as a shoemaker and joined the POST weekly newspaper where he was called on to serve DRUM magazine.
While working at DRUM between 1956 – 1965 and again from 1968 – 1985, Kally produced some of his most brilliant pictures of the South African Liberation Movement. Of everyone he photographed, Kally said that the leader who made the greatest impression on him was Chief Albert Luthuli.
The exhibition Life and Times of Chief Luthuli comprised 21 black and white prints taken by Kally of Chief Luthuli at various moments during his life. They include images of Luthuli feeding chickens in the backyard of his Groutville home and staring out of his spazza shop window after receiving news that he had won the Nobel Peace Prize. Also exhibited were Kally’s photographs of Luthuli’s funeral, which he says was one of the saddest events he was asked to cover.
These photographs now form part of the Luthuli Museum collections. Ranjith Kally’s book The Struggle: 60 years in focus is also on sale at the Luthuli Museum shop.