Leaders in exile: Henry Makothi, Walter Sisulu and Thabo Mbeki (Tanzania, 1990)
Leaders in exile: Henry Makothi, Walter Sisulu and Thabo Mbeki (Tanzania, 1990)

Between 1989 and 1990, British photographer Laurie Sparham documented ANC exiles living in Tanzania and Zambia. Shelved for 25 years, the photos capture the camaraderie of the party and the determination to fight for freedom. In candid shots of the likes of Walter Sisulu, Jacob Zuma, Chris Hani and others, it talks to the aspirations of the liberation struggle.

An exhibition entitled Promises and Lies – The ANC, Exile and The Project of Freedom is curated by Siona O’Connell. Alongside the photos, it features a powerful documentary by O’Connell. It’s a poignant time for the photos to resurface. With all eyes on Zuma and his cabinet, the documentary looks at how deep the rot in the ANC runs.

Full of promise: Chris Hani (Tanzania, 1990)
Full of promise: Chris Hani (Tanzania, 1990)

Beginning with a series of clips after the cabinet reshuffle and the downgrade to "junk" status by rating agencies, the documentary clearly challenges the ANC. Sparham looks straight into the camera and says pointedly: "I certainly didn’t think I was shooting a story called promises and lies when I started."

The hour-long documentary, which will play on loop, features excerpts from interviews with Trevor Manuel, Ivan Pillay and Robert McBride, and the verdict on Zuma and the ANC is pretty damning.

"He’s not going to make it past this year," O’Connell says cheekily after the documentary. "Not now. Not after all of this."

The exhibition will run at the Fada Gallery at the University of Johannesburg from May 11 until June 4.

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