2014 Dec. 3: Beauty

She is beautiful
But she doesn’t know it or maybe
She chooses to hide her beauty
In the exterior of her hard face …
So, okay she has a hard face
And the thing is she hides her softness
In the moments that she tries not to smile
Her softness is gently imprinted
Like a soft kiss in all the faces
She has captured with her eyes
I tell you
She gives you pieces of herself
Behind the lens with every snapshot, click, still frame moment that she captures
She tells you her story
No-body looks at her carefully captured like the photos she has taken…
no-body looks at her without her name
I have looked at her without the weight of her name
Without the things she stands for
I realised that she is beautiful
With every hour she blinks approximately 1200 times
and in that time she tells you her story
Not the one that everybody knows
She tells a story of a love loss
A mother who left too soon
To see the life she built for her daughter
A mother who left too soon to see
Her daughter’s identity
Her daughter’s success
She left too soon
But she can see the legacy her daughter is making with a name she gave to her
See can see her but can’t tell her
How she feels
This is just one of the stories
These stories are a part of het beauty
When I look at you
I see that your dreadlocks hold
The memories of these streets you have travelled with every curl
You have a twist to the stories
You want to create
And they have become the construction of your being
Your mind tells us the measurement of a world
We see through your eyes
Because you see beauty in strength
The strength of women that love women,
men that love men,
women hidden in men, men hidden in women
You see their beauty and you allow them to stand beautifully
constructed in their own eyes
I know that when I look at you
I see beauty because I see
That you see beyond the socially constructed idea of beauty
and that makes these portraits beautiful… Zanele,
that makes you beautiful.

© Andiswa Dlamini




A tribute to Faces and Phases.


Previous by Andiswa


2014 Jan.2: Look at me


Posted in Archived memories, Beautiful, Being, Captured, Create, Creating awareness, Hidden, Identity, Legacy, Life Stories, Look at me, Memories, Mind, Moments, Mother, Nobody, Photographs, Poetry, Power of the Voice, Reflection, still frame, Strength, Time, Twist, We Are You, We Care, We Still Can with/out Resources, Writing is a Right | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

by Lerato Dumse

Zanele Muholi’s family and friends gathered for the Durban instalment of Faces and Phases 2006-14 book launch, hosted on Friday 12 December, at W section Cinema Hall, Umlazi.

The award-winning photographer who was born in Umlazi has invested the past eight years engaging with black lesbians and Transgender individuals from different South African provinces and beyond, capturing their black and white portraits.

Muholi said the book is meant to be part of the 20 years of democracy that South Africa celebrates in 2014.

Load shedding which has become a thorn in many South African’s lives threatened to disrupt the event when the lights went off at the hall without prior warning.

However, candles which were prepared as back up to the country’s unreliable electricity system saved the day, ensuring that the launch goes ahead as planned.

Muholi landed back in SA on Friday morning to attend the launch, after travelling for a month, hosting launches in New York, Stockholm, Amsterdam and France. The first book launch was in Germany in September 2014.

Four of the 250 portraits in the book, feature participants from Umlazi who were invited to be part of the special event, which saw Muholi celebrating her work at home.

People braved the rain to be part of the intimate event, which was full of heartfelt speeches from the audience and panel.

Muholi thanked the guests for coming, sending out a special thanks to her family. She reminded the audience that some Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people don’t get support from their families, while hers is very understand. Despite her relationship with her big biological family, Muholi said she continues to make new family with various people she meets through her work.

Muholi expressed her wish of going around the country and documenting voices and pictures of people like her. She said Durban has the potential to show the world it has people who are trendy because people undermine KwaZulu Natal calling it a rural area, meaning they need to work extra hard.

The artivist said as LGBTI people they never had positive images from the media and television, because even the LGBT story lines and characters on television, are played by straight people.

Muholi shared that she met many of the Durban participants through her sister, Lizzy Muholi and how she needed to share the intimate space at the launch with people she knows and who understand the work she does.

The author closed by saying the LGBTI community should teach their families how they want to be addressed, and that they deserve to be recognised and respected.


2014 Dec. 12 Nondi Vokwana @f&p launch_6676

Our special guest and participant, Nondi Vokwana…

Nondi Vokwana is a participant, who travelled from Cape Town to be one of the guests in attendance. She said she is Xhosa by birth and hails from Stellenbosch Kayamandi and Gugulethu in the Western Cape.

“I want to thank Zanele, even though she is saying thank you to us. My reason for thanking her is because the book, her life and work helps to show communities that being lesbian doesn’t mean you are a drug addict, Some of us are hard workers” She went on to share that she works as a facilitator at Vision Africa, who started working with Primary School children, before moving to High School children.


2014 Dec. 12 Five participants_6803


Participants in Faces and Phases series:  (L-R) Nondi Vokwana, Gazi Zuma, Teekay Khumalo, Lerato Dumse and Zanele Muholi.
2014 Dec. 12 Sekara & Mlu_6727


Our friends who came all the way from Johannesburg to give support are Sekara Mafisa and Mlungisi Msomi.

2014 Dec. 12 Luh Cele_6759

Luh Cele, Thokozani Football Club (TFC) player, nurse and academic who spoke during the book launch…

2014 Dec. 12 Nkosi_6770

Activist and TFC player who has since started her own soccer after meeting the photographer… © Photos by Nhlaka Muholi (12/12/2014)



Vokwana praised the book for giving LGBT people good exposure, adding that she can take the book to her grandmother who is supportive, to show that she is also educated, knows her place around elders in the street and goes to church.

Such projects show that we are not only about sex, girls and alcohol.

Since being introduced to Zanele on Christmas Eve in 2011 by a friend, Vokwana has made so many  friends, including in Durban for the book launch.

“This book is our voice, to help us stand up for ourselves, when we are being criticized and told, ‘we are changing nature’. Such projects help us respond to attacks without losing our temper, Faces and Phases also reveals we are many, and there is strength in numbers.”

Vokwana said she never chose to be gay, but rather accepted the fact that she’s gay. She believes that had she tried to please her mom and community, she would have been lost.

“I knew nothing about lesbians, I only saw gay men, I’m one of the first lesbians to come out in Kayamandi and sticks and stones were thrown at me, at first it was hard, but now everyone knows me and don’t have bad things to say about me,” she added.

Older sister Lizzy Muholi said as the Muholi family they are proud and love Zanele as she has put their surname on the map.

She further proclaimed her love for LGBTI people, as many of them in Umlazi call her mom. “As the Muholi family we thank everyone who makes it possible for the work that Zanele does to be a success.


2014 Dec. 12 Margaret speak_6725


Margaret Muholi, Zanele’s eldest sister referred to her by her childhood nickname “Coca Cola” before echoing her sister’s words for their love for the LGBTI community.

Margaret thanked Zanele for her progress, bravery, and coming out to collect fellow brothers and sisters to come together and produce this book.

“What is written ensures that even great-grandchildren can read it. This life you are living has been in existence for a long time, it is just that in the past people were in hiding,” she said before returning to her seat.


2014 Dec. 12 Sindy Ndlovu_6735


Standing up to add her voice, Cindy Ndlovu, Zanele’s niece confessed that she has a lot to say. She admitted that she is thankful for the opportunity to be part of the book launch.

“I wish there were more people here today, because the is this knowledge that I’m getting today which they don’t have, leading to them being negative towards LGBTI people. I wish I could step outside and scream for them to come inside.” Said Cindy.

It was her first time attending an LGBTI event, and pleaded to be invited again.

“I have learnt so much, I didn’t even know the term butch lesbian.

We should be included in more programs so that we can be educated and we can educate fellow heterosexuals,” ended Cindy.

Snacks, wine, and drinks were then brought out and people served themselves and continued their conversation in the candle lit room, before dispersing and calling it a night.

2014 Dec. 12 Gazi Lerato TK_6831


Related links to Faces and Phases (2006-2014)



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)





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2014 Dec. 13: Faces and Phases invokes memories

Book Review
by Kopano Sibeko

“I used to be lesbian, but now my final words are on a tombstone, because he showed me the power of a man. I could never love that, so I killed myself because I knew I could never stand corrected”.


Andiswa Dlamini  (2013) featuring in Faces series...

Andiswa Dlamini (2014) featuring in Faces series…


As I read that piece by Andiswa Dlamini, I imagined all the faces uttering those phases of their lives. I realized how oblivious we would be to the pain of each individual because we would not know how they look like.  We would not know of their existence. And lastly we would not know their realities. That poem tells a tale of the ever so aging story of a black lesbian, yet in all its growth, it still remains the same. Faces and Phases has since 2006, demonstrated these realities.

Zanele Muholi’s Faces and Phases 2006-14 embodies so much benevolence, it captures the ironic personification of freedom, as she’s been assumed to exist in South Africa.
The book tells us short stories of black lesbians and Trans-men across the globe, exemplifying that as far apart as their worlds may seem, there’s consistency in the existence of sexual orientation and gender expression.

Faces and Phases 2006-14 shares with us the beauty and talents of lesbian women and trans(wo)men coupled with the political injustices that the world has fed us. Muholi’s work is not only historic, but very revolutionary in recording images that will prove our existence, when there’s a new world order.

Muholi’s work depicts and projects the struggles that we as homosexual women and trans individuals  have faced (still face) and in the same breath shows the milestones we have overcome and all our achievements amidst all the pain. Muholi’s book shows that breaking the chains of homophobia and transphobia, is not an event, it’s a process.

In this book, Muholi demonstrates different kinds of activism, from visual, poetical to artistic. This has allowed participants to be themselves and echo the voices within themselves that the world has always silenced.

On a light note, I flipped through the book and laughed on all the memories I’ve made with some of the faces in this book (ex’s and friends). Personally, this book will be treated as an album to show my children and their children some of the people that have channelled my growth.

“They might swear at us as much as they want to, beat us up, rape us and murder us, but they won’t get our souls. Our inner beauty will remain and it will be expressed in every special way”. In the end it is in these words by Pearl Mbali Zulu where you see the artistry in volumes of what Muholi has conceived.



Previous Faces and Phases (2006-2014) book reviews



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 A new visual history, Beyond SA borders, Claiming mainstream spaces, Claiming the public spaces, Collaborations, Comfort, Comments from the audience, Commitment, Committed, Communication strategies, Community, Community based media, Community education, Community Mobilizing, Community organizing, Community outreach, Community work, Confession, Confrontation, Connected souls, Connections, Consent, Contests, Conversation, courage, Crea(c)tive senses, Creating awareness, Creative Writing, Creativity, Cultural activists, Culture, Culture of reading and writing, Details, Difference, Different positions, discourse, Discussion, Diversity, Documentation; Filming; Photography; Community, Documenting our own lives, Documenting realities of the townships, Embodies, Emotional support, Empowerment, Encounter, Endurance, Freedom, Individuals, Lesbian Love Is Possible in South Africa, Lesbianism, Lessons learnt, Life Stories, Mainstreaming our queer issues, Making a mark, Media works, Personification, Political injustices, Politics of existence, Politics of geography, Professionals, Publications, Recording, relative, Remembering, Report, Representation, Sexuality in South Africa, Sharing, Sharing knowledge, Sharing thoughts, Struggles, Support, Support is the system, Supporting each other, Supportive friends and families, Teachings, Transgenderism, Transphobia, Victimisation, Visual Activist, Visual Arts, Visual democracy, Visual diaries, Visual historical initiative | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2014 Dec. 14: The kiss that moved the church

© Photo by Charmain Carrol @ VMCI – Johannesburg

Camera used:  Canon 60D with 75-300 mm lens


2014 Dec. 14 Bathini & Portia_2160

What: Bathini Dambuza & Portia Dludlu’s engagement ceremony
Union blessed by Pastor Mazibuko


Pastor Mazibuko_5972



Engagement rings_6005

“I always prayed to get married at the age of 30. I also wanted to look like a Princess on this special day…”

- Bathini Dambuza-Dludlu














friends 2_6023


More photos to be included …








Posted in Allies, Alternative career choices, Alternative family, Announcement, Another Approach Is Possible, Apology, Archived memories, Archiving Queer Her/Histories in SA, Arguments, Art Is A Human Right, Art is Queer, Articles, Articulation, Attention, Audience, Background, Beautiful, Beautiful faces, Beautiful people, Beauty, Before US, Before You, Begging, Being conscientized, Being seen, Black Bodies of Silence, Black lesbian beauty, Black Lesbian Icons in South Africa, Blackness, Blessings, Bodies, Bodies and histories, Body, Bonding, Brave, Bringing photography to the community, Captioned, Captured, Caring citizens, Categories, Celebrating Women, Celebration, Challenges of black lesbian youth, Characters, Choice, Citizenship, Civil Union, Claiming, Collaborations, Collective, Comfort, Documentation; Filming; Photography; Community, Documenting our own lives, Documenting realities of the townships, Dress code, Dress sense, Embodies, Emotional support, Empowerment, Encounter, Endurance, English, Entertainment, Evidence, Excitement, Experience, Expertise, Exploration, Exposure, Expression, Eyes, Face, Facilitation, Facing You, Facts, Families and Friends, Family, Family and Friends, Fashion, Featuring, Feelings, Female being, Frank, Freedom, Friends, Friendships, Function, I use CANON, I was (T)here, Identity, Perception, SA Constitution, SA LGBTI experts, Self love, Self recognition, Sexual Liberation, Sexual orientation, Sexuality, Sexuality in South Africa, Sharing, Sharing knowledge, Silence, Silent voices, Social responsibility, Society, South Africa, South African Black Female Photographers, South African lesbians, South African politics, South African struggle, South African traditions, South African Visible Arts, South African visual history through the eyes of young women, Space, Speaking for ourselves, Special event, Statement, Subject of Art, Support is the system, Supporting each other, Survived, Teaching young women photography, Tears, Terrified, Textualizing Our Own Lives, Thankful, Thoughts, Time, Visual Arts, Visual democracy, Visual diaries, Visual historical initiative, Visual history, Visual history is a Right not a luxury, Visual narratives, Visual Power, Visual sense, Visual Voices, Warmth, We Are You, We Care, We love each other, We love photographs, We Love Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2014 Dec. 9: Exclusive Book Launch of Faces and Phases in Amsterdam

Hosted by

ZAM Magazine in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Where:  ZAM, Tussen de Bogen 66,  Haarlemmerplein
Tuesday, December 9 at 5:00pm

photos by Valerie Thomas and Frederico 






























































Bob & Muholi & Azim_5700











Related links


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





Posted in Archived memories, Creating awareness, Expression, Moment, Participants, Power of the Voice, Previous Faces and Phases book launches, South Africa, Time, Timing, We Are You, We Still Can with/out Resources, Writing is a Right | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2014 Dec. 7: Queen of Bhozi – eVosloorus

Everyone and everything has a nickname in this town and that’s how we roll
Umagriza means granny
Awuti means man

We have many signs that we use to greet or call someone
tjovitjo….awe…zithini lapho
It might be a whistle, a hand shake and or rhyme
This is our way of showing respect for one another
It’s how we represent iBhozi kasi lam’ kasi

To you my lady I say queen of London
To you dark woman, I say dindi, Seshi, thambo lenyoka wena skillen bone
Inyama emnandi esethanjeni

To you skinny woman I say, slenda never gets tired – gets tired by mistake
You are a grown up woman now regardless of your height yes woman you are tall
When I call you in the street you turn around and hold your hip
Opening wide your feet to balance your body
Blaze of fire keeping your face glowing
I will just say keep your head up high

Your black hair covers your brown skin to give it a dark shade here and there
Your eyes completes the model in you and your legs shining out of a natural fat
Should I talk about the way you move or what you move inside me when I look at you?
Queen of Bhozi eVosloorus

In your eyes I see a humble, wise and down to earth woman
I know you will make us proud and yourself happy
Do what you do best, move like a snake
Take that crown because it belongs to you
Live your mark everywhere you go
Queen of Bhozi eVosloorus.

© Vania Cruz Maoze

Previous by Vania

2014 Oct. 29: “I always avoided fights”


Posted in Archived memories, Creating awareness, Power of the Voice, We Are You, We Care, We Still Can with/out Resources | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2014 Dec. 7: My eight weeks at Market Photo Workshop doing FC

by Smanga Shange

Being at Market Photo Workshop was the best thing that ever happened to me, not only did I learnt about photography, I also found myself a new family – my classmates, my first real contacts in the media world’.
Those are some of the thoughts I have when I think about the Foundation Course (FC) in Photography that I completed at the Market Photo Workshop (MPW) in August 2014.

The 8 week course enhance ones technical ability; it also exposed students to different possibilities. It sure has shown me the power of the camera, that anything is possible when I have the camera in my hand. Although it is fun, there is definitely no time for playing.

The first week of the course was not so intense; we were introduced to the camera and the history of photography. We are also given a brief for our first assignment – visual elements. Reflecting on my approach upon that assignment, I couldn’t help but laughed at myself. I took the direct approach; I photographed things as they were the obvious that is. The purpose of the assignment was to see the different elements an image might have, those being; lines, shapes, texture and patterns.

Part of my challenges was producing a photo essay – a series or set of images that explore a certain concept or tell a story – based on what my home means to me. So the assignment was called ‘Home’. You should bear in mind that I had no experience of storytelling, let alone through images. My mind was still filled with the idea of storytelling through video. I titled my home series ‘Moving into a new space’.
The title speaks for itself, really; in that photo essay I photographed the newness of the space and how awkward it felt. This was portrayed by the emptiness of the space and how it was not personalized.

My fifth assignment was called ‘South African Photographer’ where I had to somewhat replicate a photo essay of a famous photographer. It also entailed writing essays about how my photo essay relates to the photographer’s. This assignment was fun; it was where my photographic skills came to play. I chose Thabiso Sekgala’s ‘Homeland’. Homeland is a series about rural areas, specifically the North West Province and Mpumalanga. Sekgala looks at how people and places construct themselves in a time of political change.

My photo essay was about Alexandra, a township situated in the north of Johannesburg. I looked at what happens to the township when people move to the city in pursuit of better jobs. Amongst all my assignments, this was the one I enjoyed the most and I did good on it.

And then came our final crit – it was the time when we applied the knowledge we’ve accumulated from the past 8 weeks. I was pleased with how the family and I had handled the situation. Let me explain; the crit was on Thursday and Friday 28 – 29 August 2014 and out of 12 students, each one of us had to print 24 images using only one printer. After which we had to mount every single image, and then put them up on the wall for what we called a ‘Mini Exhibition’. All of the preparations started on Tuesday the 26th August.

I am proud to report that all of us went into our finals ready and well prepared. My class had no drop-outs, everyone qualified for the final crit, we all passed and there were no resubmissions. So I can’t wait for Intermediate Course in Photography starting on the 14th of January 2015.


Smanga Shange,  in Alexandra Johannesburg (2014) featuring in Faces and Phases series.

Smanga Shange, in Alexandra Johannesburg (2014) featuring in Faces and Phases series.



Smanga was born as Simangele Shange in 1992. She is the second born into a family of 6. She lives in Alexandra township with her mom (who is a single parent) and her 4 siblings. Shange was raised and educated in Alexandra, a township north of Johannesburg considered as one of the poorest townships in South Africa. She completed her matric in 2009 at Alexandra High School. She then went on to do a short course in Information Technology level 01 in 2010. Shange loves Mathematics and Biology and has won awards for those subjects.

Shange started working as a general worker at a telecommunications company called Contract Kitting – now trading as an engineering company, CK Solutions – at Kyalami in December 2010, she was promoted to storeman in November 2012. She worked as a storeman until she decided to quit and pursue her interests in Information technology and photography in 2013.

Shange was part of an organization founded by Zanele Muholi called ‘Inkanyiso’. Inkanyiso is an online space that documents issues that relate to queer activities in South Africa.



Smanga & Maureen at the 2014 Soweto Pride.

Smanga & Maureen at the 2014 Soweto Pride.

Shange was introduced to photography by Maureen Majola when they attended Zanele Muholi’s exhibition – Of Love and Loss at the Stevenson Gallery in 2014 February 14th. Shange has completed a foundation course in photography at the Market Photo Workshop and is interested in documentary photography. She is passionate about storytelling especially telling stories about her place of birth, Alexandra.





Posted in ‘South African Photographer’, Culture of reading and writing, Facilitators, Facing You, Facts, He(ART), I am not the only one, I can't do it ALONE, I love photography, I use CANON, Incredible, Independence, Inkanyiso media, Penetrating mainstream spaces, Reminiscing, Sharing knowledge, Sharing thoughts, South Africa, Sponsored Foundation Course in Photography by Zanele Muholi, Stage, Thoughts, Time, Visual activism, Visual activism is a language, Visual Activist, Visual Arts, Visual democracy, Visual diaries, Visual historical initiative, Zanele Muholi | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment