Themba Hadebe

Themba Hadebe

On the surface he is just what he says that he wants people to see him as “an ordinary guy hard working guy.” “I am an African.”

Themba Hadebe, the 49 year-old, Johannesburg, South Africa based, Associated Press staff photographer. He is a ’98 World Press winner in the spot news category and the eldest for five siblings, raised in the hard working community of Thokoza,  east of Johannesburg.

Like most ordinary South African children, he was energetic and curious, but he never wanted to be in pictures. “I guest what made me a little extraordinary was the fact that I always wanted to take the picture, not be in it,” recalls Hadebe. His real love affair with photography began at the age of 13 when his stepfather gave him a first camera as a gift. “Man, I loved that camera,” Hadebe explained, “I would take pictures of anything going on around me, that meant something to me.”

Conflicted by the mixed messages in his county caused by the apartheid government and by his mother and teacher. Because of the cost and family financial challenges his mother discouraged his photography pursuits. “I needed to make money, it was that simple” On the other hand, his teachers and his heart told him that he could not become a photographer. For Hadebe, “the serious, financial problems and challenges were the priority.”

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