About the Photographer
ZENZO CHRISTOPHER NKOBI *1939 – †1993
The Zenzo Nkobi Heritage Photo Collection
With thousands of sons and daughters of the soil crossing our Zimbabwean borders to fight for the liberation struggle, many were to get varied duties — depending on training — these ranging from communication, intelligence right up to being on the battlefront.
However, one such profession that could have been largely overlooked and questioned on its relevance is that of photography.
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Zenzo Nkobi: a hero of the camera
ZENZO NKOBI: A HERO OF THE CAMERA
Discover the incredible story of Zenzo Nkobi, a hero of the camera whose works have become increasingly relevant 40 years after Zimbabwe’s Independence.
Zenzo first took up the camera as a form of “Avtomat Kalashnikova 1947 (AK47) rifle”, a lot of people back then would have looked at him, wondering at what contributions was he making towards liberating the country.
At first, many dismissed his passion for photography, but 40+ years later, his contributions are more relevant than ever. Historians and citizens alike rely on Zenzo Nkobi’s stunning photographic works to chronicle the journey to liberation.
Born at Dombodema Mission in southwestern Zimbabwe, Zenzo was raised by his mother and became a teacher before being accused by the colonial government of teaching anti-Smith songs to small kids. He then crossed the border to Botswana with the intention of joining the armed struggle and eventually made his way to Lusaka, where he worked in the publicity department of ZAPU and provided photographs for many ZAPU publications.
Zenzo was later awarded a scholarship to study photography in former East Germany and returned to Lusaka on numerous occasions. His passion for justice led him to the front lines of the armed struggle, where he used his camera to capture the bravery and sacrifices of those fighting for freedom. He worked with ZAPU, becoming an official photographer, and accompanying President Joshua Nkomo on many occasions.
Zenzo’s commitment to documenting history continued after independence, as he chronicled public and political events, particularly those related to ZAPU. He even established his own photographic studio to continue pursuing his passion. Later he joined the staff at the Bulawayo Polytechnic where he taught Photography until his sudden death in 1993.
Zenzo’s legacy lives on because his wife Edelgard safely kept a large portion of negatives, which were passed down to their two daughters after her passing in 2006.
Join us in celebrating the remarkable contributions of Zenzo Nkobi, a true hero of the camera
A picture is worth ten thousand words.
by Fred R. Barnard