Sam Reinders is a photojournalist born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa. She was 13 when Nelson Mandela was freed from prison. In the days after his death, Reinders walked the streets of her hometown and sent us this personal photo essay.
By now you’ve heard the news. Spread by undersea cable, satellites high above us, in the wind that is howling in Cape Town as I write these words: Madiba is dead.
Iconic images are filling the airwaves: Grainy archive footage of Mandela in his boxing gloves, that triumphant fist-raised-to-the-sky walk from prison, the photo with Bill Clinton next to him, looking out from the bars that were once his prison cell.
You’ve seen the outpouring of tears and grief as people say goodbye to the legendary leader. Chanting, singing, dancing, toy-toyi’ing — from outside his home in Johannesburg and in the streets of Soweto. The Dalai Lama has paid tribute, as has President Obama. The Vatican has shared its condolences, as have celebrities from across the globe. Madiba is trending.
The grief has gone viral.
But what now? I knew this day would come. Everyone did. It took me a while to realize what I was grappling with. I’m a journalist by profession. I tell stories with my camera. But unexpectedly that identity I’ve always clung to seems to have crumbled. Today I’m not a journalist. I don’t want to be. I’m a citizen. And what I show you here comes from Sam the citizen, not Sam the journalist. Personal feelings captured with my camera. No press pass between me and how I feel.
Photo Credit: Sam Reinders for NPR