Duncan Abraham

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(b. Durban, 25/01/1900 - d. **/**/1979). Photographer, cinematographer. H. (Henry) Duncan Abraham was the son of the Rev. Nendick Abraham, a Methodist minister with a keen interest in the natural sciences who, at one stage, was the President of the South African Methodist Conference. Duncan started his career as a photographer and was a successful publisher of postcards. He became known as a pioneer of civil aerial photography in South Africa and some of his work in this regard survives in collections. He is also credited with having taken photographs of the 1936 Empire Exhibition at Milner Park in Johannesburg.

After World War II he became a newsreel cameraman, first for British Paramount News (1947), followed by British Movietone News (1949) and Pathé News (1957). For them he covered events in South Africa, Rhodesia, Bechuanaland, Basutoland and Swaziland, with items ranging from the royal visit to Johannesburg (1947) and the discovery of the coelacanth (1953), to protests by the Torch Commando (1951), the Treason Trial (1956) and Dr. Verwoerd’s decision for South Africa to leave the Commonwealth (1961). In 1951 he shot the documentary Report from East Africa for Raymond Kinsey and the Church Missionary Society and in 1955/56 Laurens van der Post called on him to film the BBC series The Lost World of Kalahari when the original cameraman, Enrico Pratt, was unable to get a visa from the authorities. In 1956 he made Ventures for the Kingdom, a documentary produced on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Methodist Church in South Africa. According to one source, Abraham was a stringer for ABC Television when Robert F. Kennedy visited South Africa in 1966. During the 1960’s he is known to have shot two documentaries, namely Out of the Blue (Joseph Albrecht) for De Beers Consolidated Mines and Shaft Sinking (H. MacConachie) for the Anglo American Corporation. (FO)



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