A M A N D L A  /  A W E T H U

introduction to the work

Amandla is a Zulu word meaning ‘power’ or ‘strength’. The word was a popular rallying cry in the days of resistance against Apartheid. The leader of group would call out Amandla! and the crowd would respond with Awehtu (to us).

Amandla gives an insight into the life of children who have been effected by the AIDS epidemic in South Africa. In 2010 it was estimated that 5,3 million people in South Africa were infected with HIV and AIDS. Together with unprotected sex, mother-to-child transmission was the main infection route. The country counted over 1,5 million AIDS orphans. The proportion of maternal orphans, those who had lost their parents by AIDS but were not infected with the viruses themselves, was over 70%.

The series gives a view into the life of children who became adults before their time. It shows their bravery, ambition and strength, while also encouraging the viewer to come face to face with the harsh reality of growing up alone.



Amandla/Awethu was published as a small book. The profit from the sale was donated to Nanga Vhutsilo Positive Living Center, a local charity that focuses on the needs of orphaned and vulnerable children.  

photographer: Heleen Peeters
graphic design: Oliver Hunke, Seitenweise
text: Heleen Peeters, Ma Sibongile Mazibuko, Kim Feinberg
year: 2010
pages: 72
edition: 200

sold out


– Int Biennial of Documentary Photography (2012), Borges Centro Cultural, Buenos Aires, Argentina
– Amandla (2012), Parochiezaal Melsbroek, Belgium
– Amandla (2010), Town hall Steenokkerzeel, Belgium
– Power of Ten (2010), London College of Communication, London, United Kingdom


– Nomination, Nadar Award 2010, Category; Fine Art
– Nomination, Julia Margaret Cameron Award 2010, Categories; Fine Art, Self-Portraiture and Children.
– First prize, Profotio competition 2010, theme: Childhood


– Int Biennial of Documentary Photography(exhibition catalogue), 120 pages, 2012
– Studente stelt foto’s tentoon in gemeentehuis, Het Nieuwblad, November 14th 2010 • read here
– Studente fotografie op reportage in Zuid-Afrika, Het Laaste Nieuws, November 12th 2010 • read here
– Amandla, De Beiaard, November-December 2010 • read here
– Fotoboek Heleen vertelt leven in Township, Het Nieuwsblad, October 30th 2010 • read here