Documenting South Africa

Joanne Rathe/globe staff/file 1986

Globe staff photographer Joanne Rathe was sent to South Africa in 1986 and again in 1990. "It was an assignment of a lifetime,'' Rathe said this week, as the world mourned Nelson Mandela. "I could embed myself in a country's culture and politics and pursue stories of my choosing. I traveled throughout the country focusing on apartheid in the cities, black townships, and white suburban homes."

In 1990, with rumors surfacing of Mandela's impending release from prison, Rathe and Globe reporter Wil Haygood were assigned to cover events as apartheid restrictions began to ease. The two ended up staying six weeks and witnessing Mandela's return to freedom.


In this photo from March 17, 1986, a woman in the black homeland of Bophuthatswana is photographed for her "pass book" required to be carried by all blacks 16 years of age or older when traveling in white areas. The pass was also known as a dompas.