12 June 2009

Mozambique: Country's Top Photo-Journalist Dies

Maputo — Mozambique's foremost photo-journalist, Ricardo Rangel, died on Thursday night, at the age of 85.

Sources in his family said he passed away peacefully in his sleep, in his Maputo home.

Rangel was born in Maputo, then known by the colonial name of Lourenco Marques, in February 1924. His family was ethnically mixed, with roots in Africa, Europe and Asia. He spent much of his childhood in the home of his grandmother in the poor suburbs of Maputo.

He began his career in photography, not by taking photographs, but by developing them in private studios in the early 1940s. In 1952, he became the first non-white photographer employed on a Mozambican paper, "Noticias de Tarde". In 1960, he became head of photography on the daily paper "A Tribuna".

In 1970 he was one of a group of progressive journalists who set up the nearest thing to an opposition publication in the then Portuguese colony, the weekly magazine "Tempo". Rangel used his camera to document the injustices and cruelties of colonial society.

After independence in 1975, Rangel played a key role in training a new generation of young Mozambican photographers. In 1981, he was appointed the first director of the weekly paper "Domingo", and in 1983, he founded the Photographic Training Centre.

He was a founder and first chairperson of the Mozambican Photography Association, and was later given the honorary position of Life President of the association.

Rangel was a jazz enthusiast, with a huge collection of jazz albums, and a driving spirit behind jazz concerts in Maputo. His presence on the country's cultural stage will be sorely missed.

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