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Youth Month: Hunger pushed me to photography, says lensman Rapula Mancai

Rustenburg based photographer, Rapula Mancai, calls on young people to work hard to achieve their goals.

Rustenburg based photographer, Rapula Mancai, calls on young people to work hard to achieve their goals.

Published Jun 21, 2022


What started off as a means to fight hunger turned out to be a lucrative business opportunity for Rapula Mancai.

Rustenburg - What started off as a means to fight hunger with his camera, turned out to be a lucrative business opportunity in photography for lensman Rapula Mancai.

Mancai, 32, from Ledig near Sun City resort outside Rustenburg in the North West, is the founder of Raps Photography.

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"Hunger pushed me, we went to school without eating breakfast and I could see the situation at home was bad," he said.

"I sold vegetables after school and I saved some money and I later bought a camera. I started taking pictures at school.

"At Bafokeng High School I asked the school principal to offer me the opportunity to take photographs of the school events; he agreed and even today I still offer my photography services at the school."

Mancai also approached his former pre-school, Mmakodisang Early Learning Centre, and former primary school, Mpherebere in Ledig, and they too allowed him to photograph their events.

Thus the seeds for Raps Photography were sown.

Mancai saved some of the the money he made from the photographs he took at the schools, and was able to pursue studies in photography.

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In 2008, he registered Raps Photography and Projects as a company.

Mancai said: "I started with only three clients. I worked hard to grow the business. Photography is my passion. Today I have two people who assist me, on a temporary basis."

In the 14 years of Raps Photography’s existence, the company has offered its services to Bafokeng High School, the Moses Kotane local municipality, Bakgatla Ba Kgafela, Magalies Water and Bakubung Ba Ratheo.

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The award winning Mancai has also travelled to Lesotho and Botswana to capture clients' events in the neighbouring countries.

He offers a range of photographic services including fashion, weddings, family pictures as well as covering personal and corporate events. His company also offers live streaming of funerals.

Mancai was voted the best photographer at the North West Media Awards in 2012, for pictures he captured in Marikana during the August 8, 2012 massacre where 34 mineworkers were killed when the police shot them, following a violent wildcat strike at Lonmin (now Sibanye Marikana operation).

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He also captured the violent protests in Coligny in North West, after teenager Matlhomola Mosweu was killed for allegedly stealing sunflower heads worth R80.

Mancai also covered the anti-drug protests in Rustenburg in 2018, where businesses owned by Nigerians were torched after they were accused of selling drugs, and using the guest house businesses as brothels.

With the youth unemployment rate at a staggering all time high, the future looks bleak for many young people.

According to Statistics SA, the unemployment rate was 63,9 percent for those aged between 15-24 and 42,1 percent for those aged 25-34 years in the first quarter of 2022.

Mancai said it was therefore important for the youth to make an extra effort to earn an income. He encouraged young people to do what they liked to achieve their dreams.

"If you are unable to reach you dream, do something that will lead you to your dream, do not sit doing nothing. Sell something it might be the starting block to achieving your dream," he said."