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Gugulethu, Cape Town

Gugulethu, Cape Town – 2002

When Xhosa boys enter initiation camps as part of the traditional coming-of-age ritual that lasts for several days, they undergo circumcision, and are required to not eat for several days thereafter.

I took this shot on the third day of the process, and managed to persuade the initiate to crouch in the opening of a hut made of nothing more than tree branches and refuse bags, to seal it from the winter Cape weather.

It began to drizzle on us as the heavens opened gradually, and I spent a role of film on this young man. The cold weather, starvation and obvious physical discomfort was immediately evident on the faces of the young men, but we managed to get a smile from our subject as a result of him being teased about his emerging modelling career, by his mentors and 4 other initiates who were sitting nearby, out of picture and to the left.

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