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Photo essay: South Africa stands with Palestine

Following the occupation of Palestine online does not give you the same visceral experience of grief that we found outside of the Israeli embassy in Pretoria on 15 May. We entered as passionate crowds sang “Free, free Palestine” and organisers handed out water bottles as well as Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) posters. 

A crowd of 30 or so policemen stood nonchalantly against the wall of the embassy, looking on at the protest with seemingly mild interest.  

Although largely peaceful, at its most heated moment, a group of protestors decided to burn the Israeli flag in an act of defiance. At its most heartfelt, two men tightly embraced as the Palestinian national anthem played and a young child prayed while holding a sign that read “JUSTICE FOR ALL IN PALESTINE”.

The composition of the crowd was strange and ranged from babies in prams to wilting old men. The emotion of the speakers varied from the fervent calls of the activists to the more sedate, seemingly obligatory speeches of political parties present. For every person singing, there was another recording them on a phone. This seemed fitting for a social movement that has operated so fundamentally online. 

The feeling of the protest was perfectly captured in the image of a young child framed in front of the Palestinian flag and the electric fences of the embassy.

There is still so much hope left in the movement. It has already spanned decades and will continue to last, as long as the Palestinian people are not free, “from the river to the sea”.


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  • Tiya is an 18 year old South African student pursuing the artistic outlets of music, poetry and photography, taking influence from Benjamin Clemantine, Jack Kerouac, and Nan Goldin. They began film photography in 2020 and continue to work on projects documenting their personal life, as well as matters of public importance. You can find more of their work on Joseph is a 17 year old South African student, who for many years has been interested in art, cinema, photography and poetry. His poetry has been published in African and international journals and he is a member of the founding team of the online youth publication: Ukuzibuza. Joseph also runs a small film criticism blog focused on creating simple and accessible reviews of critically acclaimed films at Eli Osei, 17, is a South African interdisciplinary creative currently based in Johannesburg. Believing that there is an incredible amount of beauty to be found in the mundane, he finds joy in documenting life. Eli is a semi-finalist of this year’s Eugene O'neill Young Playwrights Festival, a founding member of Ukuzibuza, a columnist at The Milking Cat comedy magazine, and the editor of his own film website. More of his work can be found at