The Portfolio: Tommy Busakhwe

The inspiration, first and foremost, for telling my story starts at home. It was further motivated by the many communities I lived in throughout the years.

There is an urge to understand young people of today. It has been said that young people are lazy, rude or just don’t respect others, which can be true in many ways — and not so in many other ways. We grow up in different times, places and environments, which have a huge effect on our lives.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to how youngsters live today. I can name a few: young people are bored; unemployed; still live with their parents and have no privacy at home, which means their houses are just too small to have their own rooms; and say they are being ignored and misunderstood. There is a very complicated gap of communication in households between parents and children.

In the earlier times on farms, every single person had a job, although we earned much less compared to what most people earn today. Since that time a lot of people have moved from the farms to more “civilised” villages and small townships. This makes getting employed today very difficult and complicated, because there are a lot more people living together in one village or township. People are now more dependent on the government than before. 

The government is not able to provide jobs for everyone; certain educational levels are now required to be able to get a job. There was a lot more information that was withheld from youngsters in previous times than today; information is available almost everywhere and youngsters are well informed.  


In earlier times we were exposed to many valuable aspects of life on the farms. For example, veld and plant knowledge; knowledge about animals — their grazing and living conditions — and a lot more. Today so many young people are exposed to what is happening in the world: that is what they react to.

A lot of family values have changed and the transformation of our land has had a huge effect on people’s lives.

Tommy Busakhwe and Luce Steenkamp are Kalahari-based photographers participating in the Communities of the Kalahari Advocacy Project presented by the Open Society Foundation for South Africa and the Market Photo Workshop. 

Visit the project here

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Tommy Busakhwe
Tommy Busakhwe is a Kalahari-based photographer

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