Imraan Christian has had all of social media talking about his powerful image, Death of a Dream.
Police beating and pinning down students, rubber bullets flying, vandalism and protests have become commonplace images of South African universities, and most people have become numb to the horror of the situation.
Photographer Imraan Christian, whose photograph, Death of a Dream, captured our attention on Monday, says his aim is to evoke emotion, start conversations and stop people from becoming desensitised to the issues affecting hundreds of thousands of students around the country.
“I want people to feel something, anything, just feel. These are your children and mothers and fathers who are protesting,” he says.
To create the image he collaborated with Wanelisa Xaba, Dudu Ndlovu, Kealeboga Mase Ramaru and Justice Machaba.
“I’ve been deeply unsettled by the situation at the University of the Free State and North West University, and the images of 1976 have always stayed with me. I reached out to Wanelisa about the concept for #Deathofadream, and three days after that meeting, we have manifested something powerful together,” he says.
The Cape Flats-born filmmaker says the process of creating the image was empowering: “Most people consume news like a commodity, people don’t empathise. The discussions we had as a collective during the process of creating the image will stay with me forever. When young black people truly connect, there is nothing we can’t manifest.”
A former University of Cape Town student, Christian’s motivation was also fed by the Rhodes Must Fall movement.
“I graduated from UCT in 2014, so the conversations around decolonisation and transformation really manifested in 2015 with the creation of the Rhodes Must Fall movement and the subsequent falling of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes. I look to the students for truth, and that’s what has really captured my heart and imagination,” he concludes.