‘Proudly South African’ in the International Social Justice Space

[notice]A monthly column by Marcel van der Watt, lecturer in the Department of Police Practice at UNISA, former police detective, and current member of the Gauteng Rapid Response Task Team for Human Trafficking.[/notice]

Homegrown photography on the frontline

I recently attended the ‘Together Let’s Stop the Traffick’ summit in Ottawa, Canada (14-17 November 2013) where role players from around the globe converged with one purpose in mind: To give due recognition to the multi-layered complexities associated with human trafficking and working towards establishing an International Resource and Coordination Centre. I firmly believed that I had much to contribute and hoped to share some of the best practices and lessons learnt from the South African context.

Five working groups were established which discussed ideas and benchmarks around themes relating to how the International Resource and Coordination Centre will be managed, the mandate of the centre, importance of neutrality and where the centre will be situated, workflows and processes, tapping into existing counter human trafficking structures and identifying sources of intelligence. As the four day summit crescendoed into the final debriefing session I reflected on my conversations with some of the foremost experts in the field. I felt a sense of pride and privilege to be part of the South African chapter and realised that there is absolutely no reason for us to take a backseat in the global frontline discourse on human trafficking.

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The ‘God Idea’
On my arrival back in South Africa I received a confirmatory email in my inbox which echoed my sentiment of South Africa as a wellspring of innovation in the social justice space. The email contained the work of 21 year old Tami-Jade Hall who recently completed a photography course in conceptual, fashion, portrait and alternative portrait photography. I heard about the work of Tami-Jade and asked her if I could peruse it with the aim of sharing it with the larger counter human trafficking community in South Africa. I was supremely impressed with her insight and ability to ‘translate’ something that for the most part is quite abstract. Tami-Jade credits her work to what her family refers to as the ‘God Idea’ and states that there is no way she would have come up with it on her own. She highlights the fact that she felt overwhelmed by a perceived inability to deal with the reality of the issue and would often act “like it doesn’t exist”. The ‘God Idea’ came to her and is now captured in one of the images.

“The concept was His, all I did was capture the image”

[EasyGallery id=’counterhumantrafficking’]

Tami-Jade photographed all the images. The images of the women were captured by using a green screen and the background was cut out using photo editing software which allowed Tami-Jade to place the women in any situation i.e. on the chess board.

“God proved with these images that He can use anyone from anywhere no matter what……If you listen to Him and are willing to do what He tells you then there is nothing you cannot do. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.”

Finally, to reiterate my ‘Proudly South African’ sentiment, I have seen a number of the latest international counter human trafficking campaign images used in the United States, Canada, Australia and South-East Asia. Despite the fact that the work of Tami-Jade was not part of the summit in Canada, I will argue with conviction that it ranks amongst the GIANTS. I salute her sterling piece of work and for availing herself for the bigger battle that we are called to fight.

Anyone who may be interested in work of Tami-Jade Hall can contact her via email on photography.unmasked@gmail.com


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