2015 March 19: The censored and oppressed recognized

by Lerato Dumse

While many choose to play it safe in life, with comfortable 9-5pm jobs, living in safe neighborhoods, engaging in safe conversations, and staying out of their corrupt government and their associate’s way. There are brave women and men who refuse to play it safe and tackle issues affecting their fellow human sisters and brothers, putting their lives at risk and are even killed and/or imprisoned for their actions.

These fearless individuals, such as Angolan journalist, Rafael Marques de Morais were honoured on March 18 during the 15th Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards 2015. The ceremony was held at the Barbican Centre, in London.

The common cliché about how tough the judge’s decision was during competitions, awards or pageants was clearly evident in this case, especially when viewing video clips of the nominees in the four different categories during the awards. This annual event looks at “the most creative defenders of free speech in the planet.”

2015 March 18 MC_2056


Working as MC for the night, comedian Shappi Khorsandi had the house roaring with laughter with her witty and humorous way of talking about serious issues, which involve politics, sexuality, religion, and terrorism. No one was safe from Shappi’s jokes, including herself and her family, as she shared her experience of being an Iranian born British, whose family was forced to flee their country of birth due to her father’s line of work as a writer. The comedian also spoke about the negative impact experienced by her father for not being able to continue working and expressing himself in his own language.

Highlights looking at “the year that was” were played in a short video clip that featured Journalists who have been arrested in Egypt, the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris, France and the recent shooting at a Copenhagen cafe were a debate on Islam and free speech was held.

The index judges conceded that the journalism category was so tough they had to declare a tie. Safa Al Ahmad from Saudi Arabia who has spent the past three years filming mass uprisings in the Eastern Province of her country. Her 30mins documentary titled Saudi’s Secret Uprisings has resulted in Safa facing violent online threats and being advised not to return to her country.

Index on censorship 2 winners_2071

Sharing the award with Safa, Rafael Marques de Morais’ journalism exposes government and human rights abuses in the diamond companies. Apart from being sued 1 million pound (close to 18 million rand), he is due to appear before an Angolan court, faced with 9 various charges stemming from his reports about the diamond industry. Asked for comment on how African journalist can produce fearless investigative pieces, Rafael’s advise was for journalist to “form a band of brother and sisterhood, support another” in order to have strength and safety in numbers.

Another African scooped the Campaigning award, Amran Abdundi, a women’s rights activist from the Kenyan and Somalia border was presented with the award.

Giving one of the most profound speeches of the evening and sharing that it was her birthday and one she will remember forever. Amran dedicated the award to women who are part of her organisation Frontier Indigenous Network (FIN), which has set up shelters, despite receiving death threats. FIN supports women who are vulnerable to rape in conflict areas (including gang rape), as well as those experiencing female circumcision. “This award is for Kenyan women who are rejected by their families for having children out of wedlock, to the women who now have constitutional rights to own property, live stock and land.” The activist said she has been called many unmentionable names for her work, she added that she does not do it to win awards but because it is a grave reality.


While Tamas Bodoky, founder of Atlatszo.hu an investigative news website in Hungary was honoured for his relentless promotion of a free press in the digital activism award. Despite being blacklisted by his government, he continues to run workshops to help protect investigative journalists in his country were media faces a constant threat of suppression, media taxes and police-run office raids.


The arts category provided a mixture of musicians, rapper, cartoonist and a performance artist. It was Mouad ‘El Haqed’ Belghouat who took the award with his radical lyrics. Born in Morocco in 1988, Mouad has been jailed three times since starting his rapping career in 2011. His music raises issues of poverty and government corruption, which mobilised Moroccans to protest against their government. Getting on he index stage, Mouad thanked the organisers of the awards for helping him to secure his visa, which was a challenge.

He dedicated the award to his mother and “those who have been arrested, are arrested and will be arrested,” for standing up against the Moroccan system. “They can kill us, but you can’t kill a thought/idea or put it behind bars,” said the courageous youth. Before singing one of his songs, Mouad expressed his hopes of one day having the freedom to express himself by speaking and singing freely in his country.


Related links

2013 March 24: Recognition of LGBTI Activist should be a culture




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 March 20: Faces and Phases book launch at UCT African Gender Institute




The Stevenson Exhibition Gallery and the African Gender Institute cordially invite you to the launch of ‘Faces & Phases‘ by Zanele Muholi.

Zanele Muholi is a photographer and visual activist who affirms and celebrates the multiplicity of human identity and sexuality. Representing the black female body in an honest and compelling way, her intimate portrayal of love reveals beauty and tenderness, and asserts the joy of close relationships with radical and liberating energy. Zanele Muholi’s Faces and Phases portraits were created between 2013 and 2014 and form part of an expanding archive of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in South Africa. Muholi’s integrity and affinity with those she photographs establishes deep trust and creates dignified visual statements.
In addition, she has done important work on hate crimes against LGBT people, the trials of perpetrators and funerals of victims.

Please RSVP to Hilda Ferguson (hilda.ferguson@uct.ac.za / 021 650 4102)


Centre for African Studies Gallery (Harry Oppenheimer Building, UCT)



Related links to Faces and Phases (2006-2014)



2014 Dec. 12: Muholi presents Faces and Phases (2006 -14) at home




2014 Dec. 9: Exclusive book launch of Faces and Phases in Amsterdam



2014 Nov. 26: Faces and Phases mini book launch @ RFSL, Stockholm



2014 Nov. 7: Faces and Phases (2006 – 2014) book launch in Johannesburg



2014 Nov. 17: MoMA talk – Photos of the night



2014 Nov. 17: Announcement – MoMA present two best South African artists




2014 Sept. 26: Visual diary from Ulm, Germany




2014 Dec. 1: “The portraits are no longer just pictures”




2014 Nov. 25: Faces and Phases – embodying the freedom of being




2014 Nov. 24: Our Photographs have been taken




2014 Nov. 20: Book Review – Faces and Phases (2006 – 2014)






Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2015 Mar. 19: The Protest is in response to DOLCE & GABBANA

Insulting slurs against IVF children and same-sex parents

Speaking to the Italian magazine Panorama, alongside his business partner, Stefano Gabbana, Domenico Dolce said children should be born to a mother and a father.

Dolce told Italian magazine Panorama that:

“The only family is a traditional one. I’m not convinced by those I call chemical children, synthetic babies… They are wombs for hire, semen chosen from a catalogue… psychiatrists are not ready to confront the effects of this experimentation.”

protest D&G photo 6A lot of activists at the forefront of this protest are from Uganda.

protest D&G photo 7


protest D&G photo 14
Stefano Gabbana said: “The family is not a fad. . . I am opposed to the idea of a child growing up with two gay parents.”

Please join us in sending a clear message to Dolce and Gabbana that same-sex families are loving, happy families. This issue is not about same-sex families alone but also about the many straight families who have benefited from fertility treatment. Dolce and Gabbana’s statements add to the stigma, shame, prejudice, rejection and intolerance often suffered by the same-sex parents and their children.

It is hypocritical for Stefano Gabbana to oppose gay parents, given that in 2006 he expressed desire to have a child via artificial insemination and surrogacy. He’s guilty of double standards. Gabbana wanted for himself what he now condemns other gay men for wanting.
protest D&G photo 4

protest D&G photo 1 (18)
Protesters photo _ D&G


Dolce and Gabbana are echoing ill-informed, outdated and homophobic prejudices about gay parents. Research spanning 40 years shows that children brought up by gay mums and dads are just as happy and well-adjusted as those from traditional heterosexual families. The key to a child’s welfare is the love of their parents, not the parent’s sexual orientation.

Out and Proud Diamond Group

Peter Tatchell Foundation






Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2015 March 10: Photo of that day

… still relevant right now.

Camera used:  Canon 6d with 85mm lens on Manfrotto tripod.
Location:  Belleville, Paris. FRANCE.
A collaboration between Valerie Thomas and Zanele Muholi.


ZaVa series, Paris  (2015)

ZaVa series, Paris (2015)


Previous link


2014 Nov. 11: The Artivist and the Doctor




Related link

2014 Nov. 21: I’m cut in two



Posted in After 2015 International Women's Day, Another Approach Is Possible, Archived memories, Cold night, Collaborations, Collective, Comfort, Commitment, Committed, Communication strategies, Community, Complicated Lesbian Relationships, Confession, Connected souls, Connections, Creating awareness, Creative Writing, Democratic, Facing You, Facts, Faith, Family, Featuring, Feelings, Female being, Female Photographers, Lesbian, Lesbian couple, Reality, Reason, ReClaim Your Activism, Recognition, recognized, South African Visual Activism, Visual activism is a language, We Are You, We Care, We Still Can with/out Resources, ZaVa series (2015) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2015 March 16: Response to Muholi – Artist’s Talk

@ UCL Centre for the Study of Contemporary Art at 6pm
by Dr Cadence Kinsey

Ahead of the exhibition opening, which is part of the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, nominee, Zanele Muholi visited the History of Art Department at UCL to talk about her work as an artist and activist. Her nominated project, Faces and Phases 2006-14, explores black LGBTI identity in post-apartheid South Africa and beyond. Working closely with participants, Muholi’s work represents the life of the community against a backdrop of homophobia, transphobia, discrimination and violence. However, as Muholi explained, traditions of resistance imagery – of pain and protest – are offset in her work by depictions of tenderness and love.


2015 March 13 UCL dept 1


The daily experience of life and living, of weddings and funerals, become moments that bring the community together. Muholi also spoke about how her work connects with Inkanyiso, the project she developed in response to the lack of visual histories and visual literacy skills training produced by and for black LGBTI persons. Through this project, the community can work together to develop new languages of self-representation.


2015 Mar.13 Muholi presenting her work to students and allies  UCL,  UK. Photo by Lerato Dumse

2015 Mar.13 Muholi presenting her work to students and allies UCL, UK. Photo by Lerato Dumse


Taken as a whole, Muholi described her work as visual activism: a project of producing positive representations, of authoring new spaces and even new realities. By moving away from direct representations of hate and violence, Muholi’s work constructs a new archive for the black LGBTI community. Because the photograph can enter many different kinds of spaces, or go ‘viral’ as Muholi put it, these images have a life beyond the gallery: they are put to work online, on social media, to be shared amongst those who created them. As such, it seemed to me that the power of the project was that it does not simply document but actively intervenes in the lives of those it represented.


2015 March 13 UCL _Muholi Lecture -poster
Muholi’s talk was followed by a lively debate that centred on her activist work. One provocative topic was how the legacies of violence in apartheid might be felt in the kinds of hate crime that shadow her work as an artist and activist working with black LGBTI individuals, raising issues of accountability and responsibility for those who perpetuate the violence. Other questions focused on possible moments of solidarity with other African nations, and cases from Zambia and Nigeria were discussed. This left us with the open question of how to attend to difference – to local issues, need or resources – while developing ways to work together.



Previous links


2015 March 14: Educational Friday with UCL scholars and allies




2015 Mar. 12:  Muholi addresses scholars at Brighton University, UK


Related link


2015 Mar. 9:  “African Photography & ” Faces and Phases” seminar



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



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





Posted in Another Approach Is Possible, Archived memories, Creating awareness, Expression, Power of the Voice, Response by Dr Cadence Kinsey, South Africa, We Are You, We Care, We love each other, We love photographs, We Love Photography, We Still Can with/out Resources, Well organized event, Writing is a Right, Zulu is a language | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2015 March 18: Visualizing Herstories

… in conversation with Ingrid Pollard

Where:  UCLAN, United Kingdom (UK). Preston

Camera used:  iPhone 4S by Christine Eyene.

An invitation from Christine Eyene  as part of Making Histories slot for FORMAT International Photo Festival.
Christine also took the behind the scenes photos as Lerato Dumse conducted the interview and Zanele Muholi captured the videos.











L-R:  Ingrid Pollard, Zanele Muholi and Lerato Dumse.


2015 Mar.18 Ingrid Muholi Christine Lerato_2044

L-R: Between the artist, activist, curator and journalist. Women Making Current Herstories… Photo by Zanele Muholi


Related links


2015 March 14: Navigating through London




2015 March 14: Educational Friday with UCL scholars and allies




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







Posted in Archived memories, Creating awareness, Expression, Power of the Voice, Related links, Relationships, Remembering, We Are You, We Still Can with/out Resources, Writing is a Right | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2015 March 14: Navigating through London

by Lerato Dumse

I’ve known for approximately two months that I will be traveling to London on March 10 as a participant working on the Faces and Phases 2006-14 photo book.


2014 2013 2010 Lerato Dumse portraits by Zanele Muholi.

2014 2013 2010 Lerato Dumse portraits by Zanele Muholi.


As an impatient person, I have taught myself to block out any upcoming, exciting expectations, news or events until the time comes.

However, by late last week I could feel the excitement and anticipation swell up inside me.

My mother turned 50 years old on 7th March 2015 and we had a birthday party for her. Arranging the event and the constant bickering between my sister and I over the party helped to get the trip out of my mind.

The day of departure finally arrived and I had been warned about the cold weather and season. I rushed to the mall to try and get some warm gear, to my disappointment winter stock had not arrived, the shops which had stock were just too expensive for me, especially since I spent a lot of money for the party. So I could not arm myself with warm clothing the way I would have like.

My mom insisted that she wants to be with me at the airport because she “wants to see the plane take off.” It meant traveling home to KwaThema from Johannesburg, where she (mom) had arranged with her friend to drive us to the airport. We were running late and since we were not clear on the directions our generous driver didn’t want to drive too fast. I could feel my Impatience building up as I imagined the airport staff telling me “check in time has passed.”

Fortunately there was no drama during check in, and I proceeded to the boarding gate, before realising that I had not eaten all day and I was hungry.

I made my way to one of the shops to buy a snack. I first became suspicious when I noticed that there were no price tags on any of the items in the shop. I decided to grab a juice as a temporary solution to my hunger, until they served supper on the plane. When the person in front of me produced R200 to pay for two sandwiches, two juices and a packet of gum, I knew these people meant business.

My turn came to pay for the 330ml juice and I braced myself for the worst, however I was still shocked when the cashier said R32.

It reminded me just how expensive it is to travel, the fact that my Visa alone cost R5 550, plus another R1700 for the fast service. How these tactics are used to prevent ordinary South Africa such as myself from traveling, while those who are perceived to be tourists who bring their foreign currency don’t even need to pay for a visa to visit our shores. I sipped on my expensive juice and made my way inside the plane ready for the 10-hour flight.

Apart from a screaming baby not far from my seat, I was lucky to find a seat with no other passenger, which meant I could sleep. Fortunately there was no turbulence, so much so that at times I was worried that the plane had stopped moving mid-air. We landed safely at Heathrow airport and I noticed that our flight was full of senior citizens. I’m still curious about why and also saddened by the fact that none of these old people were black or even coloured. It made me think of our great/grandparents who are stuck in their apartheid built homes, some in RDP homes (if not shacks) taking care of grandchildren. How for most of them the longest trip they took in their lives was traveling to urban areas such as Gauteng by bus, train, trucks and taxis to seek employment, while most never even found their way back home.

I must admit that I did not have an unpleasant experience at the airport, as I was expecting, based on my own experience while traveling to America and experiences shared by others, while traveling outside of Africa.

The worst one for me is racial profiling at airports; being called to the side amongst hundreds of other people you were on the same plane with. Being asked ridiculous questions by a security guard. Questions you have answered already while applying for your visa, which you will be asked again when you reach customs.

The expensive juice at OR Tambo International airport was only the start of my problems. Visiting the currency exchange counter at Heathrow airport I was informed that R150 would give me a mere 5 pounds, I think I immediately dropped a dress size. I was advised to rather visit a bank when I reached London, instead of the airport. I sat outside the café that I was supposed to meet with Zanele Muholi and took full advantage of the 8hours free super fast Internet to catch up on my work.

Once Muholi and I had reconnected we travelled to London, our home that a friendly Oliver Phillips has opened and agreed to share with us. One of the first things I noticed was the efficient public transport from trains to buses, which seems to be used by the majority of people in the area. The busyness and overcrowding of London reminds of Joburg CBD, only difference is that instead of black people its whites.


At home with Oliver Phillips

At home with Oliver Phillips

It was sad to learn about the young people who kill each other in London mostly by stabbing. Seeing flowers laid down in a public space in honour of one of the victims of these senseless killings forced me to remember the black lesbians we have buried in SA townships. My heart was further crushed when I read in the front pages about the unemployment crisis, which is affecting youths in the minority groups, such as blacks leaving in London.

One of my fears is getting lost, especially in a foreign country. Having to venture out into the streets of London the following morning made me anxious, thank God for cabs or Muholi and I might have spent our morning carrying heavy bags looking for The Photographers’ Gallery.


2015 Mar.12:  L-R Lerato Dumse, Angela Kaya (Director at Goethe Institut - London) and Zanele Muholi.

2015 Mar.12: L-R Lerato Dumse, Angela Kaya (Director at Goethe Institut – London) and Zanele Muholi.


Hopping from one meeting to the next, we then rushed to the Goethe-Institut London office before taking a one-hour train trip to Brighton for the first of four planned university talks for Muholi at the Brighton University.

The following morning saw us running to catch the 9am train and making it to the station with less than 5 minutes to spare. Later I was introduced to the London version of Fanta Orange. I was surprised to see that the colour was not orange, but looked like Fanta Pineapple, only to taste like a bad non-existent Fanta Lemon.

2015 Mar. 13 Lerato Dumse & Robert Taylor...

2015 Mar. 13 Lerato Dumse & Robert Taylor…


Meeting with Robert Taylor who was mentored and inspired by the late talented friend photographer, Rotimi Fani-Kayode provided lots of insights into the world of black photography in London presently and during the 80s.

After another talk by Muholi at UCL University, Professor Tamar Garb, her husband, colleague and students, entertained us at her home. Indian food was served and my taste buds were excited to taste food that is similar to what I eat in SA.

After the meal; wine and enlightening conversations were shared freely, before being driven to our new temporary home where I passed out as soon as my head hit the pillow, only to be told in the morning that I had snored the whole night (I refuse to believe it).

March 14 had gloomy and cloudy weather. I was scared to even leave the safety and warmth of the blankets. I spent the whole day indoors catching up on my writing and feeling cold. One of our Caledonian Road neighbours spent a part of their evening chatting and laughing very loud, whoever said Africans are the loudest people clearly never met this family.

One more week left in the Queen’s country, all I’m praying for is the weather to improve and to continue meeting other influential and informed black artists to exchange knowledge and ideas with.



Related links


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




2014 Nov.17: Announcement – MoMA present two best South African artists




2014 Sept. 11: The New York experience that was




2014 June 20:  Spana my child




2014 June 20:  Difficult screenings




2014 April 5: ‘Sifela i Ayikho’ photos




2014 Mar. 13:  SA Black Lesbian invades San Francisco 




2013 Dec. 21: ‘A part of Me’ in Paris




2013 Oct. 7:  Art enthusiasts converged




2013 Oct. 4: Cramps were killing me




2013 Aug.9: For the love of sport activism




2013 July 31: Almost all about my first time abroad




2013 June 21: Yesterday’s Reality Check




2013 June 5: Lesego sharing the work of Inkanyiso at the LGBT conference in Salzburg, Austria






Posted in Another Approach Is Possible, Archived memories, Creating awareness, Expression, Power of the Voice, South Africa, We Are You, We Care, We love each other, We love photographs, We Love Photography, We Still Can with/out Resources, We were (t)here, Witnesses, Women's power, Women; Voices; Writings; Education; Traditions; Struggles; Cultures, Words, Work, Writing is a Right, Writing matters | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment