Wanted editor-in-chief Sarah Buitendach.
Wanted editor-in-chief Sarah Buitendach.
Image: Jenny Buitendach

Ed's Letter | Don’t look back in anger, I heard you say

I’m sure I’d have thrived in the heyday of print. A world of smoke-filled newsrooms, wire copy, glamorous reporter postings, and typesetters seem deeply romantic, but I missed that completely — and so have found a proxy in a surviving, related world: the print archives.

Settling down at the Tiso Blackstar stacks — they hold original photos and clippings from the likes of Business Day, Financial Mail, the Sunday Times, and Sowetan — is a rare joy. I don’t get to do it often enough, but the brief hours of leafing through pages of history — that range wildly from the heartbreaking to outrageous — are an actual trip. There are shelves and shelves of manila envelopes crammed with black-and-white images of floods and flower shows and boxers and anti-apartheid campaigners.

My personal favourite? The images taken in the cities and towns across South Africa. And there are many. I’m a proud Joburger, so you know which ones hit the spot for me. The old hotels of Hillbrow, the insane “whites-only” daily life of 1970s space, street scenes of yore that sometimes I even recognise. Worlds I never knew but seem familiar.

So, you can imagine how Mpho Mokgadi’s pics of abandoned Joburg mesmerise me. The brilliant young photographer hustled his way into places long forgotten and the result is as fascinating as it is arresting and creepy. As with so many of the pieces in this issue, his work appeals strongly to our collective sense of nostalgia: something, apparently, irrespective of our ages, that the Wanted team have in spades.

Mpho Mokgadi’s pics of abandoned Joburg mesmerise me
Sarah Buitendach

Which is why we’re having a bit of a Kate Bush moment in the office. Looking at a fashion shoot recently, I remarked that we should all be dusting off our red frocks and Wuthering Heights-ing it. The youngsters on the team had never heard the high-pitched warbling of the ’80s diva so we had an exploratory YouTube session. She went down well. There’s even a strangely ethereal pic of her up on the moodboard of our Junior Fashion Editor, Sahil Harilal, now. But he’s not the only one. On a recent trip to London, I spotted rows and rows of Kate Bush vinyl on display in the HMV on Oxford Street. She was its artist of the month — and her various albums from the 20th century, reprinted, sit alongside the newly minted records of Childish Gambino and Post Malone.

Across the road at Urban Outfitters and H&M, there’s an even more terrifying wave of nostalgia — the ’90s are back in fashion. Grungy plaid, Courtney Love-style slip dresses, Caterpillar boots — they’re all there. What appalled me most? Platform takkies (à la The Spice Girls) are hugely en vogue. Seriously? I was a teenager the first time round and they were a bad idea then. Have we not learnt from the past to avoid repeating mistakes? Where shoes, conflict, and politics are concerned, it seems not.


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