Lufuno Gogoro
AGE WHEN INTERVIEWED: 36
BORN: Ha Mailula, Venda, South Africa
INTERVIEWED IN: Freedom Park, Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa
PHOTOGRAPHED BY: Oupa Nkosi

Lufuno Gogoro was born in a village in Venda – one of ten bantustans or ‘black homelands’ established by the apartheid government, and which now forms part of Limpopo province. In 1993, he left his grandmother to live in Johannesburg with his mother, who was a domestic worker. Along with his mother and other community members, they occupied land in Soweto that later would be known as Freedom Park. A community leader actively involved in many political movements and community projects, Gogoro served as the spokesperson for the Greater Gauteng Business Forum, an organisation made up of informal businesses that has called for the closure of small, foreign-owned shops operating in townships across the province.

     Growing up in Venda, I did almost everything a rural kid would do. We had a mud house and you could see the poverty; it was there. You know, a simple thing like bread was very scarce, so you would only get to enjoy a loaf of bread once or twice a year. You would survive on pap and morogo and cabbage.

     I always valued education – maybe it’s because I was raised with Christian values and I used to read the Bible a lot. I was inspired by David, who was a fighter. My grandmother forced me to go to church. You know, in this whole world if God should ask me who should I bring back from the dead, it is my grandmother. She was a loving person, a protective woman who was always there trying to provide for us. But it was difficult, very, very difficult. My grandmother needed to have a pass in order to move around her own country. A lot of things were happening, and now you realise that it was by the grace of God that we have arrived to where we are today.