A University of the Free State alumni has taken to the streets of Bloemfontein to celebrate the city’s rich and varied history. The self-taught photographer Lekiti Rantsane hopes to change the negative perceptions portrayed in the media about the city recently.
“Bloemfontein is a very beautiful place; it’s vibrant and has vibrant people. The surroundings can inspire you to be greater than yourself. My contribution is to the community. You just have to have a change of mindset when you come to Bloem,” he says. Rantsane believes that there are people who, despite the city’s woes, still appreciate its beauty.
“I’m trying to show the people out there that although there are bad stories or rumours that they hear about Bloemfontein, there are still beautiful people and buildings. That is what I’m trying to portray in the pictures that I take,” he adds. The 27-year-old often turns his lens towards historical buildings to remind people to celebrate the history that the city is built upon. These include the O.R. Tambo Building and various historical buildings downtown.
“There was a train that used to pass through downtown and it no longer does. Through photographs, I can show that. We can still celebrate those kinds of buildings and not just overlook them. Most of the buildings that have historical value are either abandoned or no longer looked after so I’m just trying to capture them as I pass by,” Rantsane says. As an introvert, he says taking pictures became his way of communicating when he started in 2018.
His journey in photography started with a cell phone. As his passion and love for storytelling grew he decided to save up to buy a professional camera. “Do it for the love of it and not for the money. If you do it for the money and the money doesn’t come, the love that you had for it dies. When I started taking pictures back in 2017/18 I didn’t get any money for it. I only started making a few bucks for it around 2020. Do it for the love of the art.” Rantsane urges the greater community to embrace the historical value of the city and not overlook it. This can only happen by changing the way they look at their surroundings.