LGBTQIA History Month: Our Heroes- Zanele Muholi


Visual Activism is an alternative approach to convey black lgbti history in SA and beyond.

Originally posted on Regendre:

AY20By Yassine Senghor

In the spirit of LGBT history month, we are honouring some of our LGBTQIA heroes for the impact they have had not only on the world, but on us personally. Ami previously highlighted the work of Ellen Degenres, one of the most visible and influential queer icons who transcends sexuality to reach mainstream audiences, without hiding who she is and who she loves. Today I would like to talk about one of my personal heroes, Zanele Muholi, South African photographer and LGBTQIA ‘visual activist’.

Muholi was born in Durban, South Africa and studied photography there and in Canada, and has exhibited her works around the globe. Her focus subject has always been of the world that she has grown up in, the people she has encountered in her day to day existence, and her fellow members of her queer South African community. Butch, femme, stud, modern, black…

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2015 Feb.28: Norwegian press responses on Muholi’s Art of Activism show

What:  Art of Activism
Where:  Akershus Art Center
On show as from: 21 Feb. – 29 Mar. 2015
Titles: Translated from Norwegian to English by Vibeke Hermanrud, co-founder of Kunstplass 10, Oslo


2015 Feb. 28 _ Illustration 1

– a lesbian and gay magazine in Norway – “Activism as art», March nr 3-2015


2015 Feb. 28 Illiustration 2

– a large daily newspaper targeting mostly Oslo, Akershus and Eastern part of Norway.
«Activism and poetic touch»


2015 Feb. 20 Illustration 3

– the largest national daily newspaper in Norway. «Art that is making a difference»
– It says: “Zanele Muholi believes in art’s ability is to make the world a better place.»
by the well known art critics Kjetil Røed


2015 Feb. 25 Illustration 4

Klassekampen – a relatively large, radical daily newspaper targeting people all over Norway.
«The way it actually is» and it says: «I normally do not not give a direct recommendation to see a show, but I am making an exception here», «A damn important exhibition – regardless of whom or how you love»,
by the well known art critics Tommy Olsson.
Related links


Bilder fra søndagens omvisning og konsert




2015 Feb. 23:  Paving a new way forward




2015 Feb. 21:  SA Ambassador to Norway opens Muholi’s exhibition




2015 Feb. 19:  Trending with Shaz ‘Sicka’ in Oslo




2015 Feb.15:  “I have won again”




2015 Feb. 13:  From Johannesburg to Oslo




2015 Feb. 11:  Preliminary program for Zanele Muholi




2015 Feb. 10:  Another round for Norway






Posted in Archived memories, Creating awareness, Expression, Power of the Voice, South Africa, We Are You, We Care, We Still Can with/out Resources | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2015 Feb. 25: Self Portrait of the visual activist

Camera used:  iPhone 5S

Location: Foreign Ministry office, Oslo. Norway.

“The true content of a photograph is invisible,
for it derives from a play, not with form, but with time”.

John Berger (Understanding a Photograph)


Self Portrait of the visual activist...

Self Portrait of the visual activist…




Posted in Bringing photography to the community, Give children cameras not candies, Motivation, Penetrating mainstream spaces, South African Visible Arts, Speaking for ourselves, Statement, Stylish, Subject of Art, Subjects, Success, Survived, Textualizing Our Own Lives, Visual history is a Right not a luxury, Visual narratives, Visual Power, Visual sense, Visualizing our lives, Visuals, Voice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2015 Feb.27: Announcement – Public Lecture by Zanele Muholi @ UCLAN, London

Visual activist portrait.  Photo credit:  Zanele Muholi, Parktown, Johannesburg  (2014)

Visual activist portrait. Photo credit: Zanele Muholi, Parktown, Johannesburg (2014)


Making Histories Visible is pleased to announce a public lecture by award-winning South African photographer Zanele Muholi on Tuesday 17th March at the University of Central Lancashire.

An internationally acclaimed visual activist, Muholi co-founded the Forum for Empowerment of Women (FEW) in 2002, and in 2009 founded Inkanyiso (, a forum for queer and visual activist media. Her self-proclaimed mission is ‘to re-write a black queer and trans visual history of South Africa for the world to know of our resistance and existence at the height of hate crimes in SA and beyond’. She continues to train and co-facilitate photography workshops for young women in the townships.
Muholi will be joined by Lerato Dumse, writer, journalist and activist passionate about documenting LGBTI’s lives in and outside her South African hometown of Kwa-Thema. Dumse has been editor of Inkanyiso since 2013. She currently works as a publicist for the on-going Faces and Phases project, and is also a participant featured in the recently published, Faces and Phases 2006-14 photography book.

Zanele Muholi was born in Umlazi, Durban, and lives in Johannesburg. She studied Advanced Photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Newtown, Johannesburg, and in 2009 completed an MFA: Documentary Media at Ryerson University, Toronto. She has won numerous awards including the Ryerson Alumni Achievement Award (2015); Fine Prize for an Emerging Artist at the 2013 Carnegie International; Prince Claus Award (2013); Index on Censorship – Freedom of Expression Art Award (2013); Casa Africa Award for Best Female Photographer and a Fondation Blachère Prize at Les Rencontres de Bamako – Biennial of African Photography (2009).
Her Faces and Phases series was shown at, among others, the South African Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013), Documenta 13 (2012), and the 29th São Paulo Biennale (2010).
She is shortlisted for the 2015 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize for her publication Faces and Phases: 2006-14(Steidl/The Walther Collection). Muholi is an Honorary Professor of the University of the Arts, Bremen.

Muholi’s visit to UCLan coincides with her participation to the group exhibition Residual: Traces of the Black Body, curated by Christine Eyene at New Art Exchange, Nottingham, as part of FORMAT International Photography Festival 2015. Muholi and Eyene will also be in conversation at New Art Exchange on Thursday 19th March.

Making Histories Visible is an interdisciplinary visual art research project based in the School of Art, Design and Performance at the University of Central Lancashire. The project is led by Lubaina Himid MBE, Professor of Contemporary Art, supported by Susan Walsh, Research Fellow Contemporary Art, and Christine Eyene, Guild Research Fellow Contemporary Art.

Public Lecture by Zanele Muholi
Tuesday 17th March 2015
18.00 – 19.30
University of Central Lancashire
Foster Lecture Theatre 3
Foster Building
Preston PR1 2HE

See map:

Entrance to the lecture is free.

For more information, please contact Making Histories Visible at

NB:  This announcement was first published in:


Previous articles



2014 July 18: Women’s Day Lecture at UFS




2014 June 17: Muholi’s Ryerson University (RIC) Talk



2014 Mar.21: Photo of the Day from Human Rights and LGBTI in Sub-Saharan Africa class




2014 Mar. 18: Sharing South African Queer Knowledge with students in America




2014 Mar.5: More than an activist




2014 Feb.4: Black Queer Born Frees in South Africa




2013 Nov. 4: From Market Photo Workshop to Bremen University









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2015 Feb. 25: I drank again…

by Siba Nkumbi

I acknowledged that I suffered from alcoholism but I never fully accepted that I am the cause of my misery. Little things triggered a relapse. Here is a practical example: I lost two jobs in one month, lost hope in finding anything permanent and was facing the possibility of going back to the Eastern Cape knowing pretty well that I came to Cape Town to get back on my feet again.

Things never really turn out as planned, 25 years later I still have to remind myself about life being unpredictable. I felt my cravings grow everyday, I had to push through each day reminding myself that I don’t have to drink even though everything inside told me to get that one drink and things will get clearer.


2013 Siba & friend at Mzoli s place , Gugulethu township, Cape Town.

2013 Siba & Thina at Mzoli s place , Gugulethu township, Cape Town. Photo supplied by the author.

I became a master at fooling myself. December 2014 was the month of my relapse, with Christmas and my Birthday coming up, I convinced myself that I had the ability to control my alcohol intake.

After all, I never went to rehab so maybe I’m not really an alcoholic, those thoughts amongst other thoughts encouraged my relapse. I started drinking again, I moved in with my ex boss and I started having a glass of wine every night and I applauded myself that I was better than before because I had stuck to one glass.

The worst day was yet to come. The morning of the 28th of December was a great one. Waking up to the sun shining, what a great day it was. I knew that before midnight I’d be drinking because when midnight strikes it will be the dawn of my birthday. That’s when my relapse took a serious turn, I started drinking and heavily must I add.

On the 30th of December, I realized that I had become comfortable with drinking again and decided to take a step back. I was successful in entering the new year sober, from the 2nd of January 2015 I drank until the morning of the 4th where I found myself breaking down on my bathroom floor.

I came back to my senses snapping back to reality I realized I was playing a dangerous game with myself and everyone I love and care about.

I had to decide if I want stop or continue! I decided to pull myself together once and for all. This time it was final, but wait… I had let down so many people by letting them believe I had stopped, only to start again.

I knew that I was ready to accept it if people didn’t believe me. The difference this time was that for once in all those times I had tried to stop I was doing it for myself only. The last few times I did it for myself, mother, partner and siblings. This time was different I was doing it for me. It only works when you do it for yourself, that’s what I told myself.

I started on a new leaf knowing that I risked losing a lot of friendships by putting a stop to my lifestyle of drinking for fun and to fill the emptiness and void I tried to cover with alcohol.

I didn’t tell anyone I was planning on going to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)meetings.
Firstly, before anything I had to forgive. Through all that forgiveness decision I realised that it’s ok to seek help and admitting that I was weak to do it on my own.

Trying to do it alone drove me back to square one at a time where I thought I was making progress. I saw I was drowning and made that call for help, and so my AA journey started.

I found a group in a Church up in Kloof Street and it has been my home since then. I felt alive when I met people that went through the same stuff as me and realised that help is always there when you need it, all I had to do was ask.

I am grateful to the people that stood by me when the addiction was horrible and unbearable. Thank you.

The moral of the story…

We come across every kind of mystery as humans, we need to know that every problem we face is universal and we’re never alone. Accepting that you need help does not mean that you are weak but it means that there is a will to get better in pursuit of a better life and happiness.

As a black butch lesbian woman living in South Africa, life gets hard. One finds themselves constantly fighting against one thing or another (be it family or the whole world). Alcohol is not the answer!

We have voices and abilities to come out of our miseries if we can only breathe and think.

It begins with saying”

“No” To that drink, leave the rest to the universe and put your efforts on being a better person.



Previous article


2015 January 15: Exploring my femininity as a butch






2014 Oct. 15: A letter to my Mom






2014 Oct. 10: “I tried to commit suicide…”











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‪2015 Feb. 23: My very own apartheid experience ‬in Oslo

‪Saturday, 21 Feb 2015 ‬

‪I did not live through the apartheid era, but I now know, how it feels to be asked for your identity document in a public space.

On Saturday after attending a great exhibition by Zanele Muholi and a great dinner with wonderful individuals, I was introduced to wild meat (a deer) by Monica Holmen.

She suggested it after I told her I wanted to try something new. After that I went out partying. There was gay pride “kick off 2015 Pride parade as well as two other LGBTI events happening that night.

Rikke Komissar gave me details of the  people I would be joining. When we got home I contacted them and because I don’t know the place very well, they said they will fetch me at Gronland, a station away from were we stay. Nina Bahar whom I met at the exhibition, her partner Kitty Bahar, the fun and energetic Maryam Moezzi, and Nina’s sister Hasti Hamidi people I love and take as my very own LGBTI family came to fetch me, at the station.

We then walked to the club Sentrum Scene which was not very far. As we approached the door and the people I was with were allowed in, I was stopped by the “bouncer” and he said I can’t go in. They told him, “this person is from South Africa and she is an artist.” I think they made it worse by saying that because he then asked for my passport and I looked at him with a face that says ‘really are you serious?’

He didn’t even care about how I looked at him. Nina asked if I had anything in my wallet which has my identity and found a student card but he still didn’t want me to enter. My team called their white friend Hans Heen Sikkeland who was inside. He came and tried to reason with the guy and persuade him to let me in but the guy was not interested he wanted my passport or I am not entering the place and he spoke in Norwegian which I found to be very rude and provoking.


Sicka 'Star-ban' performing at the Nordic Black Theatre last night...

Sicka ‘Star-ban’ performing at the Nordic Black Theatre last night…   (25/02/2015)


I thought to myself this is how my parents and grandparents felt in the apartheid era. Hans then asked if I have a picture of my passport and I told him I can call someone who can send it.

Hasti then borrowed me her phone because I didn’t have internet connection and I emailed and told Muholi to please send me a picture of my passport and Hans asked the guy if I can show him a picture he agreed.

We waited a minute and received an email from Muholi and I showed him and we entered. We went inside we were welcomed by two gay men and observing the place the majority of people there were white people.

Nina introduced me to some, but at that state I was not in the mood for white people. I noticed that the black LGBTI community was not noticeable and it was like we were not there.

I asked Nina if there is any other black homosexual person?
She introduced me to Eddie Edris a gay guy from South Sudan and Nina told me he sometimes feels lonely because he is almost the only dark skinned person in this gay clubs and I also met the crazy and exciting Susanne Demou Overgaard.

We were standing as a pack and we were obviously the minority the drinks were expensive and to be honest at that moment I regretted going out that night and it made me miss home because I didn’t expect this from people with the same sexual orientation as me.

Nina and I had a discussion she explained to me that in Norway’s homosexual scene, not all is goody goody. There is a lot of racism especially against Muslim people. I was very disappointed because I had so many good things to say about the place (guess its true what they say ‘not all that glitters is gold’).

Then Maryam and Hasti suggested we go to different clubs and I was keen because I didn’t want to be there. We left and it was me, Maryam, Hasti and I, while Nina and Kitty went home because they had to wake up early.

We walked about 15-20minutes I must admit Oslo neighborhoods are very safe you can ask directions and the people will kindly help no matter how drunk they are. Before going to the event we had to be in the list of people going on their Facebook event, things this side of the world are controlled even events.

The name of the event is Queerdo which happens every once a month. When we searched for the entrance the ladies at the door were very welcoming. After paying, she asked me were I’m from I told her and she asked for a hug and said if anyone gives me trouble or I need anything I should come to her and it was like she almost new what had happen.

We went and I met some people who were at the exhibition and told me they enjoyed the show and went telling their friends haha! I was famous for being South African some girls asked to touch my skin and called others to come and feel how soft it was. The place was welcoming and warm with good people who are just gay and happy. We left the place when it was closing time at 03am I headed home.

I enjoyed myself that night excluding the drama I had. I still love Norway and I’m hoping the racism will end.‬


Sicka relating how she experienced racial slurs from a bouncer at one of nightclubs in Oslo on Sat. 21/02/2015. Here she spoke at the Norwegian Council for Africa on 24/02/2015.

Sicka relating how she experienced racial slurs from a bouncer at one of nightclubs in Oslo on Sat. 21/02/2015. Here she spoke at the Norwegian Council for Africa on 24/02/2015.  Photos by Zanele Muholi

by Shaz ‘Sicka Star-ban’ Mthunzi (reporting from Oslo)



Previous links

2015 Feb. 23:  Things I like and what I want to do




2015 Feb. 23:  Paving a new way forward




2015 Feb. 21:  SA Ambassador to Norway opens Muholi’s exhibition




2015 Feb. 19:  Trending with Shaz ‘Sicka’ in Oslo




2015 Feb.15:  “I have won again”




2015 Feb. 13:  From Johannesburg to Oslo




2015 Feb. 11:  Preliminary program for Zanele Muholi




2015 Feb. 10:  Another round for Norway







Posted in Another Approach Is Possible, Archived memories, Creating awareness, Expression, Power of the Voice, South Africa, We Are You, We Care, We Still Can with/out Resources, Writing is a Right | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2015 Feb. 23: Things I like and what I want to do

by Shaz ‘Sicka’ Mthunzi

Like most people, I enjoy having nice things every once in a while. I am obsessed with cars that have power and balance, brands like Mercedes Benz, Land Rover/Range Rover. I wish to see myself owning all of them in future, living in a beautiful, warm home with my very own “wife and kids”.

I’m a musician who loves listening and collecting old school music. I recently found myself listening to Benny Goodman, who is a jazz musician. I love a bit of jazz every now and then. Although people in my age group won’t agree, to me, music is more than just sound. I hear with my ears, but to me music is like being addicted to morphine and when ever you get a dosage of that drug everything falls in place.

Sicka outside Munch Museum,  Oslo. Photo by Zanele Muholi (23/02/2015)

Sicka outside Munch Museum, Oslo. Photo by Zanele Muholi (23/02/2015)

I promised myself that my house will have a music room. When it comes to clothes I’m not really a brand person. When I wear clothes I want to be the only person who owns that attire. I wear clothes designed for me or if someone has bought me. I am told I’m very talkative and I’m good with people. I can’t disagree with that because I love people and I love learning and understanding other people, guess it comes as a package of my many talents that I’m blessed with.

Most people see my calling to be a sangoma as torture. However, to me it is something I would never trade for anything because I have passion for helping others and tend to forget about myself. I want to travel a lot; Norway was just the first step to traveling. I want to see myself performing as the first African lesbian hip-hop artist in places like New York USA, Tokyo Japan, Paris France, Dubai, Australia, London England. I would also love to perform all over Africa but I fear for my life. In most African countries homosexual people are being victimized on a daily basis.

When I was contesting to be Mr Lesbian Daveyton 2014 I was asked if I had a wish what would I wish for? My answer was peace and freedom, because peace brings calmness in human beings and homosexual people will have the freedom of expressing themselves without being discriminated or victimized. I want to see a lot of things change in my country and the world. To have gay family on a Colgate advertisement, be in a township community that accepts gay people, see a lot of churches accept homosexual people.

As an artist growing up in a township like Daveyton, which is full of life and LGBTI entertainment, I would like to see more townships making room for more LGBTI entertainment. Our lives should not be about us only being victimized, let us have fun and celebrate our homosexual lives.

Being in Norway has taught me a lot about life and the world. It makes me curious, I find myself asking questions about the influences our world and time posses. Norway is an hour behind from South Africa, during their winter because they have very short days. People in Norway are very fit and their shops have good quality and healthy food and they maintain an equal environment.

Their low temperature keeps their skin light and clean. I would love to visit Norway again and have more experiences and also because Norwegian people are very warm and welcoming. My favourite sports are swimming, cricket and my newest favourite is skiing. I tried it for the first time and “fell” in love with the snow. I feel Norway has changed the way I take care of myself. I find myself drinking tea, which is something I am not used to. I find myself having healthy habits, which is a good thing because it means a longer life for me. I even have a favourite tea, called sweet mint, a mixture of peppermint, ginger, black tea and schisandra. I also found new love with wholesome bread with some paste we discovered, (how nice) I am definitely enjoying my stay in Oslo. I am not very keen on food when its hot, my mum always tells me she loves and is proud of me, but would be happier if eat my food hot, I burst with laughter and tell her I’m going to eat and she shouldn’t stress. Wintertime is when you will see me eat because comfort food makes me happy and when its cold your body needs heat, so eating cooked food keeps you warm. I think its safe to say I am winter’s biggest fan. When its cold your body needs heat so eating cooked food keeps you warm. In time I will have more things to like after exploring places, food and everything and anything.


Previous articles


2015 Feb. 22: Paving a new way forward






Posted in Another Approach Is Possible, Archived memories, Creating awareness, Expression, Power of the Voice, South Africa, We Are You, We Care, We Still Can with/out Resources, Writing is a Right | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment