Andrew Levy

The frame through which we view life shapes how we experience it. Guided by this worldview, 29-year-old Andrew Levy fills his days with training young people to harness the camera lens as a tool for social change. As managing director of Umuzi Photo Club, Levy has, since 2012, found a practical application for his postgraduate Diploma in Leadership and Entrepreneurship from the University of Cape Town and Certificate in Organising and Action from Harvard Kennedy School, the graduate school at Harvard that focuses on public affairs. Umuzi Photo Club is a Jo’burg-based youth development vehicle that enables economically marginalised young people to learn the skills of photography and journalism. The club equips them with a creative, marketable skill that “allows young people to use their voices, begin new conversations and start new dialogues for the betterment of South Africa”. Levy’s business approach to the development field helps to address the constant need for donor funding. The photographic work produced by the young activists is viewed as a visual archive, which the club sells to corporates. The model is already producing impressive results. Since opening its doors in January 2009 Umuzi has held 22 exhibitions, seven of them outside South Africa. To keep inspired, Levy turns to the deep well of South Africans who were willing to sacrifice their own well-being for their dreams of equality. At age 12, as a member of the Johannesburg Choir, he was given the honour of singing for Nelson Mandela. Star-struck, the only words he could summon when meeting one of his personal heroes was “I really like your shirts”. Levy has long since found the right words to express himself by helping young people do the same. It’s all part of his dream “to be a part of a society that feels empowered and where the voices of young people are heard”. — Taryn Mackay