Impressions of My Home Town

A Photographic Journey through Graaff Reinet

A review by Brett Adkins [The Herald, 16:11:2012]. Re-used for this 2nd edition [2019]

It may be known as the jewel of the Karoo, but this probing photographic take on Graaff Reinet reflects a very different wealth which the historical town undoubtedly possesses. Very much focussed on its structures – from the humblest to the ornate architecture of some of its most familiar buildings – the pictorial mostly moves right away from the grandeur of some of the latter, and finds many more many interesting, colourful gems in some of the community’s less privileged areas.

Born in Graaff Reinet, Mzuvukile Maqetuka clearly knows his hometown inside out and his camera moves through its dusty streets – and sometimes into more lofty vantage points- to capture the quiet and attractive nature of its lifestyle, without – remarkably – using any of its inhabitants to tell his story. Rather, it’s the shanties, homes, business, churches and other diverse facades which makes up collective snapshot – often forlorn-looking on the face of it, but rich in character.

His lens takes in the township of Umasizakhe in all its multi-layered complexity – and that throws it into a golden light. Indeed, shooting in light that enhances the most modest of homes that are often painted in cheerful shades like peach and turquoise, adds more depth and interest to this catalogue of structural studies. There are breaks from this journey when Maqetuka transports us to the dizzying heights of the Valley of Desolation and presents striking, strangely vibrant images of its unique rock formations, as well as an aerial-like shot of the sprawling town below.

It is a meandering picture story which anyone familiar with the haunting of many a Karoo town will find fascinating.


About the author

Mzuvukile Maqetuka
Mzuvukile Maqetuka was born in the town of Graaff Reinet in 1952. He was educated, first at the University of Fort Hare where he enrolled…
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