City celebrates Dr Bensusan, photographic icon

City celebrates Dr Bensusan, photographic icon
Three Johannesburg photographic societies corroborated at Museum Africa in Newtown earlier this week in celebration of the legacy of avid amateur photographer and one-time Johannesburg mayor Dr Arthur D Bensusan.
According to Dudu Madonsela – Curator of the Bensusan Museum and Library of Photography, which is housed at Museum Africa – the collaboration by the Camera Club of Johannesburg, Photographic Society of South Africa and the Bensusan Museum was a culmination of “various photographic activities” that started on July 23.
The week-long activities had included photographic exhibitions, public lectures, walkabouts and interactive sessions.
Madonsela said this was a fitting tribute to Dr Bensusan as all three photographic societies owed their existence to him.
She said the various activities had been deliberately timed to start on July 23 “to commemorate one of the City of Johannesburg’s greatest resolutions of 1967”.
“It was on 23rd July 1967 when then mayor of Johannesburg, Mr I Schlapobersky, accepted a donation of photographic materials from Dr AD Bensusan. These materials were enough to start what is today the only Photographic Museum in the Southern African Development Community,” she said.
The Camera Club of Johannesburg celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, according to Anne d’Oliveira, its president and Second Vice-President and Director of the Photographic Society of South Africa in the Central Gauteng Region.
D’Oliveira said its members and amateur photographers from across South Africa owed a true debt of gratitude to its founder, Dr Bensusan.  “We’re all honoured to have been a part of this year’s event,” said D’Oliveira. 
Madonsela added that she hoped to turn this celebration into an annual event.  “I believe that events like this will have an essential part to play if we are to drum up the much-needed momentum for the 50th Golden Jubilee of the Bensusan Museum and Library of Photography, which will take place in 2018,” said Madonsela.
“Dr Bensusan really did a lot for this country, and his legacy should be celebrated,” she said.
Dr Bensusan, who died in 2007 at the age of 86, was often described as a “forceful, energetic, brilliant and compassionate” man who developed a keen interest in photography while still at school and continued to explore this passion for the rest of his life.  He served as a Johannesburg councillor for 16 years and as mayor for two years (in 1973 and 1974).
He exhibited his photographs at many international events and achieved many awards.