2020 July 8: Civil Society Organizations in the time of Covid19: Trans Hope- giving hope to LGBTQI+ People

by Thobeka Bhengu

It has been over a hundred days since the implementation of a lockdown due to the Covid19 pandemic that has infected more than 11 million peoplewith fatalities over 500 000 worldwide. South Africa is one of the recent countries at the beginning of a worrying surge and according to leading experts, the worst is yet to come. As of this week, the cumulative number of confirmed cases in South Africa is over 200 000 and more than 3 500 confirmed fatalities. There is justified fear roaming endlessly and the hollowness of loss. Every day we hear of people we know who have testedpositive, loved ones who have succumbed to Covid-19 and close friends and families are now testing positive and some are already recovering.

The new normal is not normal to millions of people as the catastrophic impact of Covid19 has had its firm grip on an economy that has been strained pre-COVID-19. Many people have lost jobsin a country where the unemployment rate was at 29,1 % before the pandemic arrived on its shores. In some parts of the country, there have been endless power cuts and shortage of water for months and members of the communityhave been striking daily, closing roads and burning tyres. Queer people are amongst millions who are struggling at this time and several LGBTQ+ Civil Society organizations have been providing support to LGBTQ+ constituents across the country.

This week we conducted a virtual conversation with Sazi Jali, the executive Director of a Durban based non-profit organization Trans Hope which was founded on the 6th of June 2019Trans Hope’s initial founding idea was to advocate for transgender and gender diverse people’s rights due to the exclusion of trans and gender diverse people in many LGBTQ+ organizations. As the organization grows, it has expanded its reach to all LGBTQ people with a particular focus on transgender and gender diverse people’s needs that have been overlooked. When the pandemic started, the organization had no source of funding but survived on small donations received from different donors and now it currently has 18 active volunteers that are heading various projects.

They have managed to source out funding for food parcels, which has been one of their effective responses in assisting LGBTQ+ people; with close to 300 people directly benefitting from the response and Gender Dynamix also pitched in to assist with food parcels for transgender people in need. Gender Links also donated funding to transport 26 transgender people to health care facilities for the collection of much-needed medication in different parts of eThekwini and Pietermaritzburg. PMB is where the only hospital that offers health care services to transgender people is situated in the entire province.  

In collaboration with KwaZulu-Natal Progressive Health Care, a door to door awareness campaign lead by educational officers was initiated to raise awareness, reinforce appropriate behavioural patterns and safety protocols about Covi19. In addition to discussing COVID related measures, the door to door educational programme included conversations on gender and sexuality. This ongoing campaign has managed to reach 11,057 households.

The organization has actively held constructive conversations with the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature speaker Hon. Nontombeko Boyce, as means to lobby the KZN legislature office to support a call for developing policies around employment for queer people, monitoring and reporting discrimination in the workspace which is one of the maincauses of high unemployment rate within the queer community. 

Trans Hope currently has multiple cases that have been made public as a means to garner support. The first case that requires an urgent response is a case of a transman at Umlazi who has over the years offered shelter in his two-room shack to LGBTQ+ people. For years he has offered his home to LGBTQ+ people but due to more people seeking shelter, it has become difficult for him to provide necessities to keep it going. The call put out by Trans Hope is for individuals, private entities, organizations to donate or offer any kind of assistance towards renovations, fencing and building of extra rooms at the shelter to accommodate 11 people currently living there and food donations are still welcome so as to continue providing daily meals through a soup kitchen.

There are also two active sexual assault cases that Trans Hope has been working on that require public support, where both perpetrators were given bail and in one case the docket went missing in the hands of a system meant to protect women,children, and queer bodies. Trans Hope has demanded critical engagements on the reform of substantive law relating to sexual offences, a reform of our reactive legal system in response to sexual assault cases, and much-needed amendments of the sentencing framework in sexual offences to avoid prosecutorial and legislation discrepancies. 

In addition to all these projects that respond to numerous issues confronting the queer community at this time, Trans Hope is in talks about instituting a Health Care Facility that will ensure access to health care in a safe environment without the fear of discrimination for LGBTI+ individuals. This will still include psychological support in response to the mental health and well-being of queer people.  

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit South Africa in the gut and many Civil Society Organizations are struggling to keep their doors open and many will have to close their doors due to financial implications this pandemic has invariably had on Civil Society Organizations in the time of Covid-19. Inkanyiso media will be acknowledging the work done by several organizations in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the face of adversity, we must show gratitude to those who have held our hands through this hard time. We salute Trans Hope and all organizations that have been at the forefront in the Covid-19 response and have opened their doors to queer people.

TransHope                       @trans-hope 

For any other queries contact: info@transhope.co.za or director@transhope.co.za

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Two hundred hours in Paris

My taste of iconism in Paris with Zanele Muholi

“I am not free while any women is unfree, even when her shackles are different from my own.” Audre Lorde

After a self-imposed hiatus of three years, a strenuous quarantine and catching COVID-19 twice, I received incredible news on the 11th of January 2023 from one of South Africa’s visionary and most hardworking visual activists in the art world, Sir/Professor Zanele Muholi. 

Prof Muholi: “Good Morning, Unjani? Please call me urgently. I have an exhibition opening in Paris next month. Could you please come with us? Thanking you in advance.”

I respond “Morning, I’m good thanks. I would love to come to Paris with you. Can you brief me more regarding dates and everything.”

Three weeks later after confirming in detail what, why, when and how, my VISA arrives, finalising the thought that this manifestation I wrote in my notebook at the beginning of January is happening in real time. 

“Go grab a cup of coffee and enjoy.” Says Muholi after receiving a picture of my VISA, confirming that I’ll be joining them in Paris.  

10:55am, Friday, 21 April – I request my Uber to O.R. Tambo international airport, the driver’s in a good mood. I’m hyperventilating because I’m going to Paris for the very first time with one of the most prolific visual artists of our time. I’m trying to remain calm. This is my first passport stamp, as a small town girl from a mining town west of Joburg and the impact of how far I’ve come is not lost on me. My mother passed away when I was 18, it was the middle of the year. God knows, this is definitely something I would like to share with her, to see the smile on her face and joy at the thought of me travelling abroad for the first time. The woman at the check in looks at me with a wide smile on her face and asks me; “So where are you going?” I respond with “Ke ya Paris.” (I’m heading to Paris).For a split second there was a glimpse of excitement in her eyes, she looked at me, smiled, checked my passport and wished me well on my journey. I reciprocate the energy and give her a warm “thank you.” 

Ethiopia welcomes me with an airport official asking that I take my Zara sneakers off and walk in barefoot, ok! I’ll be at Bole Airport in Addis Ababa for 2 hours and in that two hours I take a brief walk around the airport. As I step into one of the restaurants it really hits me that I am not in South Africa anymore. The difference in currency ,for one, is a cold reality that’s dawning on me as I check prices. Mntase, I am not elite in Addis Ababa according to the Rand-Dollar-Euro exchange, I’m a citizen of ‘calculate your every move’. 

08:40PM – Looking at the poorly fabricated Masonite, wooden walls that separate the stores, prayer rooms, toilets, even the smoker’s section that are haphazardly next to each other I’m a little saddened to think that as an African I’m just passing through heading for what seems to be much greener pastures. Surely Haile Selassie would weep at this sight. After parting with 16 euros (R320) at Burger King with not a single coke nor chip on the side, I begrudgingly eat my food, charge my phone and then proceeded to check in to my Paris flight. 

At Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, I arrive to what feels like the inside of Home Affairs in Johannesburg CBD, the queues are endless. When I have to catch a train at Terminal 2E portes just to get to baggage claim, I realise just how large CDG is. This must be where the concept of first world problems starts, I’d better get used to it. 

I catch a taxi  to where Carole Kvasnevski, a black female gallery owner (a unicorn basically) is waiting for me. 

09:55AM, 22 April, Paris Carole and I sit down and have a coffee before we go about our day to get me acquainted with the city of Paris. Carole explains her journey to me, twenty years ago she taught young children art in Paris, she’s lived here since she was 10 years old. She says being a black female gallery owner is challenging too, however, she was born and bred in Cameroon and nothing can defy her strength. Carole, on one hand has the smile of a young endearing child but the fierce eyes of a lion ready to pounce at any moment. A creature of note. She is leaving the next day to go see her family in Cameroon. I enjoy her company she is a kindred spirit. 

My first lesson on Paris Culture: If it’s not baked, served in a tiny portion on an equally small round table then it’s not Parisian. I repeat, if it’s not made with dough forget about it. The level of indulgence for bread in Paris is surprising to me, the way they take pride in eating it you’d swear it was pap and braai’ed meat kwa Mai Mai. 

 Le Marais, where I’ll be staying for the next 9 days, is the epicentre of lifestyle where coffee shops, boutique stores, the young, the old and the incredibly stylish converge. I’m astonished to walk past what Carole says is a strike against some labour law, the strikers may as well have been at a concert, there’s a stage, people taking turns to speak to rounds of applause with music to end the occasion off. The streets of Paris are alive well past midnight, we never have to worry about walking at night or having our possessions stolen. 

It’s Sunday and the rest of our travel group arrives. I meet Thandeka Ngobese (Station manager for Inanda FM) Themba Vilakazi (Zanele Muholi’s long standing collaborator and Director of Photography), Dr Mpume Zenda (Gynaecologist and sex doctor), Indlovukazi Mapule Ngobese (TV, radio host and author) in the equally mystical and grimy city of Paris. 

15:00, 23 April 2023, MEP The people of Paris are hungry for refreshing queer content, Prof Muholi hits the mark and feeds into their craving. My travel group and I get ready in five minutes and catch our bus to the Museum of European Photography(MEP). Muholi’s show opened at the MEP on the 2nd of February 2023, it’s the main reason for me being in Paris because I’m featured in their ongoing photographic series titled Faces and Phases. A dream come true. 

Over the past twenty years, Sir Zanele Muholi has not only smashed down the doors that tried to keep the queer experience out of the history books, they have also collected more awards and honours than one can count including France’s top cultural award The Knight in the Order of Arts and Letters by French Ambassador Christophe Farnaud in 2017. Today I’m standing in Paris in front of the building where Sir Muholi’s first retrospective in France has been on since February. The exhibition is a compilation of more than 200 photographs and videos with additional archive material that covers the work that celebrates and documents the lives of South Africa’s LGBTQIA+ community for over two decades. 

There’s a large banner hanging outside the building which you can’t miss, it’s of Muholi’s 2016 self portrait titled Julile I , then I’m struck by the size of the exhibition itself, two floors of the building are dedicated to this artist’s work. Secondly there are people waiting outside the gate and down the street, because the inside is at full capacity. They wait patiently and with good spirit, they’ve paid good money to come see the work of one Zanele Muholi who hails from Umlazi in KZN. 

Free from the constraints of societal hetero-normative function and traditional gender references, the show not only uncovers the iconic photographic works of Muholi, but extends to paintings and film projection showcasing the ideal balance of art and activism. 

05:00PM, 23 April 2023 Themba is taking videos and stills of me in front of Muholi’s seminal series Faces and Phases. I’m standing in front of a sea of unerasable faces, mine is there too, a portrait Muholi took of me in 2017. This is an affirming moment for me.

There is a certain level of sophistication to Muholi’s work that reels you in and keeps you mesmerized. It ranges from the mysterious but amplified voices in Faces and Phases which focuses on commemorating and celebrating the lives of black lesbians from South Africa, to the colourfully striking Brave Beauties that showcases defiant figures, transwomen, and lesbians that form part of the socio-political resistance that is Muholi’s work and the recently introduced Somnyama Ngomnyama which is a series of self portraits.

I hear that the museum was expecting 50 000 attendees, surprisingly in its fourth month of exhibiting, they have exceeded that mark by an additional 20 000 with over 70 000 people having attended so far. A historical figure with the energy of a king, Muholi has gone further to reinvent the original and recognizable statement of “heavy is the head that wears the crown” and has replaced it with “The crown fits perfectly in this realm.” 

Onlookers stand in awe, staring blankly at the self-portraits from Somnyama Ngomyana, with its brilliantly semiotic usage of everyday utensils, pegs, combs, carpets, plastics, pens, bonsai trees in Japan, you name it. Every image is a blueprint for creativity because Muholi has the skill to make something out of nothing with refined monochromatic effect to finish it off. 

“The MEP curated a documentation room about the laws that affect the community at large, with a friendly space about the constitution and historical significance. A frame work that describes what’s happening at this current juncture and the manner in which history has changed post-apartheid, this featuring the likes of the late activist Simon Nkoli and power couple Indlovukazi Mapule and Thandeka Ngobese.” Says Director of MEP, Simon Baker. 

While I’m at MEP I learn that there’s an ongoing anti-femicide movement in France. Activists have been putting letters giving names to the nameless victims all over in Paris. There’s also a film about it, “The Night of the 12th”, a thriller based on the true story of a young woman’s murder. It refers to what words cannot describe, explaining that words are not enough for the many women that have lost their lives. This makes the presence of Zanele Muholi’s activism charged works even more pertinent.

21:10PM, 25 April 2023 Le Nelson, Paris I connect with a friend of a friend from London, their name is Ally. They’re queer and work in a male dominated industry as a carpenter. We have dinner at Le’Nelson with their queer friends, Dada and Joyce at this lovely restaurant in the center of the city. The food is five star, the waitress is apparently high off of cocaine says Ally cause she’s so jittery and all over the place. We carry on with our evening and take pictures and videos. 

Ally says they can’t fully be themselves as a masc-presenting lesbian where they come from, they would get killed. It’s a culture shock to me that they face hate crime and homophobia too. There is also segregration in Paris between the white and black queers. The two demographics don’t mix. The struggle here for a black queer is that they are silenced and don’t have the same freedoms as the white queers. It saddens me a little when Ally says that Paris isn’t what’s shown in pictures, the same struggles we have of inequality in South Africa they have ten times worse so Zanele Muholi showcasing at MEP really is a big deal and there has never been anything like that in the history of art in Paris. 

I’m back in our Air BnB and recapping on our conversation at the dinner table, we as South Africans take for granted that we have a voice and can fully vocalise our feelings about inequality without feeling the wrath of oppression in our faces. The black queers in France create platforms and spaces for themselves through foundations, not because there’s a safe space for them to go like in South Africa. The dynamics are different and reclusive. 

 10:00AM, 27 April 2023 Muholi finally arrives and I post an Instagram story telling my followers that “The Goat (Greatest of All Time) has arrived.” We’re all excited, their phone is ringing off the hook. Indlovukazi is cooking stew and rice so that we can indulge in a home cooked meal. Muholi asks me to walk to the shops with them to buy some groceries at FranPrix and to find a bottle of wine they can only buy in Paris. The wisdom coming from them on this walk is worth more than gold. 

Cameroonian filmmaker and writer Pascale Obolo and French photographer Marie Docher have invited different collectives for poetry writing, vogue classes, film viewing and live performances at MEP. Pascale is known for building sanctuary spaces for counternarratives to be seen and heard in France. These are voices that risk being silenced but choose to stand their ground and go against the norm. At 5pm the panel discussion begins with Zanele Muholi, author and radio host Indlovukazi Mapule Ngobese, and they are later joined by Inanda FM’s station manager Thandeka Ngobese, Gynaecologist and sex doctor Dr Mpume Zenda and myself as we have a conversation that brings bursts of laughter and exchanges with an open, attentive, warm hearted audience. I’m amused by the director of MEP unexpectedly translating the definition of orgasm from English to French. A majority of the library, the auditorium, the third floor is transformed into a transcendent place of discussion, education and dance with a performance and DJ set from artist SOÑXSEED and closing set from myself, I remember being nervous but Zanele comes up to me and says “Khumo, play us some amapiano, take us back home.” So I do, considering that this is an exhibition that carries context around the universal significance of the black queer community to also tell their stories anywhere in the world.  

My trip to Paris has been an awakening of sorts. My view of the world has definitely expanded, I think about my place and my work in the world very differently now, I know I have to create impact going forward. On the other hand seeing the daily challenges faced by citizens of the diaspora living in Paris I’m left so much more grateful for the quality of life I’m able to live back home. From this journey I take pride in knowing I am a face going through my ownphases. I am a black queer who has travelled from South Africa to Paris with just a ‘Randela’ (Mandela’s Rand) and dream in my pocket. I want to DJ all over the world, write stories and tell my story to those who feel disempowered by the system. I want to break the chokehold of patriarchy and anarchy and create a world for my community that is safe, inclusive and impactful.  

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2020 July 9: Tell them…


Tell them to spend time with their loved ones.
Tell them to pray more. 
Tell them to make amends with each other. 
Tell them to take their vitamins.
Tell them to wear their masks.
Tell them to eat their vegetables. 
Tell them to be hopeful. 
 Tell them to be kind to each other. 
Tell them it will be okay soon. 
Tell them to believe again.
 Tell them to do better.
 Tell them before it’s too late
©️ Mercury_Duma
Posted in Activated queer spaces, Activists Act, Affirmation, All things are possible, Appreciation, Art is Queer, Art Therapy, Article by Thobeka Bhengu, Being, CoVID 19, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2019 Dec. 8: Farewell Mkhulu Menziwa

Farewell May Biyela  a.k.a Mkhulu MENZIWA
Ndabezitha, Zulu, Mageba, a maternal grandchild of Khanyile clan.

A funeral service with a difference was attended by community members and Victorious Ministries Church International (VMCI) whose congregants are of the LGBTQIA community.  Majority of those present were women.

Date : 08.12.2019
Venue: Biyela Village  (Esgodini sakwa Biyela) Eshowe, KwaZulu-Natal
Start time:  10:45
Presiding Pastor: Apostle Zungu
Funeral Home: Icebolethu

In attendance: VMCI  congregation, family and friends
Succeeded by wife:  Rita Plaatjies a.K.a Maplaatjies
Children: 2 daughters and a son with grandchildren
Siblings: one sister

Leading worshipper: Mbali Biyela

Documentation: Inkanyiso Crew
Thobeka Bhengu, Lizzie Ziqubu & Zanele Muholi

Zungu conducted burial rights, welcoming of the body and ushering of the coffin into the house to perform burial rituals and led it into the tent where the last funeral service of Menziwa took place.

Lighting of candles was performed by  congregants, taking turns in holding the white candles followed prayer Evangelist Mngoma.

Pastor Nkambule presided as MC over the farewell service. Bathini Dambuza read the obituary. GOGO  BIYELA spoke on behalf of the family to welcomed all who attended  and assured the community that they were safe and did not need to feel to feel unwelcome, the family knew of the late community lifestyle and it is something that existed long ago even with our great ancestors. Spoke highly of Menziwa as the Princess of the Biyela clan who chose Christ as a way.

Senzelwikhaya song  followed Gogo Biyela  speech as that was Mkhulu Menziwa  favorite song.

Community speaker, Mr Sabela bided farewell to May.  Then May’s grandson Sthembile (whom Mkhulu raised as His son) thanked his mother for raising and sang Mkhulu’s song, Izintombi nezinsizwa ezinhle.

Sphephile Shandu, May’s granddaughter  performed “Inkondlo” /Poem  bidding farewell her grandmother, blaming death for robbing her of more time with her grandmother whom she referred to as her twin due to striking resemblance between them.

Mr Xaba  who spoke on behalf of friends, touched on their last days together deciding on the final resting home where Mkhulu expressed wish of being put to His final home next to His biological family, at His Home. Xaba, then sang “I am going home” as a goodbye to his friend.

VMCI  special  choir group ( Inkazimulo) rendered items of worship  as their way to bid farewell.

Baba Mkhize spoke on behalf of the church. He gave a background of the church whose mission and goal is to grant home and hope to the excluded community of LGBTQIA+ members who are often judged and excluded from main stream churches. He touched on how dedicated Menziwa was as a Christian and a member of the church.

Gogo Biyela   came back to acknowledge Mkhulu’s partner whom she left out when she spoke of Her later brother. She welcomed her as official wife of late Menziwa whom they never met in person.

Grandchildren Sthembiso and Nompendulo spoke on behalf of the grandchildren

Pastor Sibisi delivered the Sermon for the service,

Opened Cor 2  verse 5
Which He used to encourage the family to be strong with the knowledge that, the body is just an empty shell which houses our souls and spirit, which some day will give in.  Encouraged the family to find comfort in knowing that, Menziwa  prepared for his journey, He was in Christ.

Apostle Zungu performed last burial rights for late Menziwa and the  service  proceeded to Mkhulu’s final home on earth at Malibele Grave yard  where the Biyela family lay their loved ones.

A sad day of loss that celebrated life of the Hero in a dignified manner with praise and humility.
A human life is beyond sexuality, colour and societal classification. We are all humans before all else.

Rest in perfect, Menziwa

BVL Zazi

Posted in Article by Bajabulile Dhlamini, Being conscientized, being loved, being recognized, Believe, black LGBTIQA, Characters, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2019 Aug. 30: All things are possible

by Bajabulile Dhlamini

Zanele Muholi is an internationally celebrated , PRIME  art practitioner and a visual activist with whom Collectivism and visibility are core values firmly rooted at the heart of their projects. They have five series they are working on, Somnyama Ngonyama, Faces and Phases, Brave Beauties, Beulahs and  Being.

All things are possible” has been Zanele Muholi’s  mission statement on their projects. They have been navigating spaces that were not accessible to Black community and queer artists.

Somnyama Ngonyama is a series of their ongoing self-portraiture , whose body of works speaks to the social ills associated with politics of race, gender, collectivism and sexuality faced by South Africans, and others globally.

With their Somnyama Ngonyama ” Hail the black lioness” series, having been to the American States and Europe, penetrating impossible spaces for blacks. It is now showing in Africa at Mauritius, International Contemporary Arts Indian Ocean
(ICAIO). This is the first solo show of Zanele Muholi in Africa, outside the boarders of South Africa.

In 2013 they have had the group show in Mauritius at ICAIO and now they are back with the solo show showing Zanele Muholi Retro, featuring their early work  ”  Only half the picture”, Beulahs and Somnyama Ngonyama, old and new works , Faces and Phases, and Mourning.

To celebrate and commomerate its 13th year, there are 13 images of faces and phases on the wall. A provocative inclusion and conversation initiator for the people of Mauritius, because the Island laws are still  demonising and discriminating against same gender loving people, gay and or transgender.

Faces and Phases

Zanele Muholi’s ‘Faces and Phases’ came to being in 2006, 10 years after sanctions were lifted on homosexuality and legitimized in the South African Constitution and just a few months before same sex marriage was given countenance by the High Court. The project inaugurated with just one portrait of Busi Sigasa, which was captured at the iconic Constitution Hill in Braamfontein. That gave birth to more  portraits to document history of black lesbians, gender-nonconforming individuals and transmen, which today has the biggest collection of black and white portraits of more than seven hundred, as a living archive of the Continent’s LGBTQIA+.

As an active ongoing project (2006-2019), Muholi’s ‘Faces and Phases ’ turned thirteen (13) this year (2019) as a patron for the excision of hate crimes against organs of the LGBTQIA+ body (ies) in Africa. It lobbies for incorporation and conscientious for LGBTQIA+ identifying individuals within all domains of society. Faces and Phases acknowledges black queer visibility, honours these identities in assurance against the annulment of their narratives on the continent.

Somnyama Ngonyama


2019 May 16 MuMu IX _ Newington _ London 4C2A0527

Somnyama Ngonyama, “Hail the Dark Lioness” is Zanele Muholi’s monograph from one of the most powerful visual activists of our time. The series features over a hundred of Muholi’s evocative self-portraits, each image drafted from material props in Muholi’s immediate environment.

These portraits reflect the journey, self-image, and possibilities of a black woman in today’s global society. A powerfully arresting collection of work, Muholi’s radical statements of identity, race, and resistance are a direct response to contemporary and historical racisms.

“I am producing this photographic document to encourage individuals in my community to be brave enough to occupy spaces—brave enough to create without fear of being vilified. . . To teach people about our history, to rethink what history is all about, to reclaim it for ourselves—to encourage people to use artistic tools such as cameras as weapons to fight back.”
– Zanele Muholi, Sir

Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness is as much a manifesto of resistance as it is an autobiographical, artistic statement. (2016 – 2019)


Zanele Muholi’s “Isilumo Siyaluma” is a collection of works that look at the stigma and violence faced by black queers, gender non-conforming and same gender loving persons in South Africa.

Zanele Muholi’s Isililo 2011 – 2018, is a continuous project in which the visual activist expresses their frustration and pain of witnessing violence in the community.

Isililo is also included in Mo(u)rning and Loss, 2014.

Between March and May 2011, three young black lesbians were brutally murdered in South African townships. Many incidences have taken place between now and then, some cases are left unreported due to secondary victimization.

The women were all under the age of 25 and it is believed that these women were all victims of brutal violence, specifically “curative rape” (and murder) in communities where homosexuality and same-sex relationships are not tolerated.

Activist and photographer Zanele Muholi’s work explores this pattern of “curative rape” and the stories of the victims of hate crime.

The latest body of work Isilumo Siyaluma, loosely translated from isiZulu to mean “period pains”, examines the desperate plight of black lesbians in South Africa, as they face rampant hate crimes and brutal killings.

Muholi explains that their work deals with their menstrual blood and that secretive, feminine time of the month, “that has been reduced within a Western patriarchal culture as dirty”. In the work, Muholi sees menstrual blood as a vehicle and medium for expressing the loss felt when you hear stories of these “curative rape” incidences.

Isilumo Siyaluma (2006 – 2011) was shown at Blank Projects gallery in Woodstock, Cape Town, on 3 – 26 Nov. 2011.

Posted in 2019, 25 Years of Democracy, All things are possible, Another Approach Is Possible, Archive, Art Is A Human Right, Article, Article by Bajabulile Dhlamini, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Activism has turned into Politics.

By Nonkululeko “Sicka” Mthunzi

The late Tswarelo ‘Pinky’ Moths,  was brutally murdered and left under a platform in Northmead train station, in Benoni, Ekurhuleni Municipality. A 21-year-old full of life and free spirited, he loved and sacrificed for his mum and sadly today his family had to say good bye so soon without any justice for his death. On 7th October 2019 I received a text and a picture about the death of Tswarelo. Personally I didn’t know him but I have seen him once or twice around our township.


This brought so much emotions to me and even heartbreak when I was told he was Lesego Masilela’s cousin. No family deserves so much sadness and no mother deserves to bury their child especially in that state. I called Lesego the same day to confirm the news and I didn’t love what she had to say about how she felt. Firstly before the family even knew what happened to Tswarelo, the was already confusion about how he had passed.

A lot of people shared their views on how he died and took to social media,  others took it as far as saying they were witnesses, while others said he committed suicide. The worst part about this confusion is that all of this false information was from some of the Queer community who didn’t know Tswarelo but they already felt the need to say so much. Imagine going through the death of a sibling and trying to understand their departure and have to deal with people who have taken the authority to be ‘Police officers,  Forensic specialist,  Paramedics, Judges and lawyers’ without any form of qualifications.


My call with Lesego was so sad because as I was about to offer my condolences she started telling me what she has been through ever since she heard of her cousin’s death. She told me a lot of people mostly LGBTIQ+ members kept on asking her why hasn’t she told anyone she was related to Tswarelo and what was Tswarelo doing at the train station. The same community we are supposed to be safe with interrogated Lesego instead of offering her condolences. Lesego carried on asking me what was she supposed to do? Tell the whole world she has a gay sibling or share all her family pictures just to prove they were related?

Honestly when I was told Tswarelo was related to Lesego I didn’t even see the need to ask because the resemblance was evident. We spoke for a long time coz I could feel she needed to vent about the outmost disgust she had about a lot of the LGBTIQ+ individuals who didn’t even come to the funeral. So make me understand my good people when did we move from being activists, advocates and fighters to being judges,  lawyers and interrogators about such incidents?

Tswarelo died brutally,  his body suit was found above his chest,  his jeans were torn,  a zip was missing,  his body was full of bruises and his head was full of blood.   Now explain to me,  does a train do that to a person trying to commit suicide? Does a person trying to kill themselves look like that? “Tswarelo never liked the train” those were words from family members and friends and even one of his friends testified further to say, “when we go out partying we travel by taxi, we don’t use the train, we can afford taxifare. Please don’t disrespect our hustle like that.”

On the 11th I attended the memorial service which was memorable. We sang, others shed tears and his friends shared beer on his behalf and danced to his favorite song titled ‘Jobe’. Sadly there were a few of us Queer people at the service less than 10 to be exact and all the loud horns that had so much to say were no were to be seen. I am angry,  I am broken by this,  why the hell are we even fighting if we can’t show face when one of us has been brutally murdered? Or is it because he was not known? I didn’t know that you had to be famous to be buried by our fellow comrades. After the service more interrogators come forward asking why they were not told,  I don’t know how this makes sense,  it means when you lose a member you must market their death and invite people since a lot of them want to be told personally. Majority of people knew of a gay person being killed and none of the loud horns bothered to ask about funeral arrangements or a helping hand all they knew was to talk B*** She** about the deceased.

The funeral was on the 13th of October which was a Sunday and the number of people increased as time went by and eventually it was packed to a point that some people didn’t have transport to go to the cemetery. Everyone who wanted to see him for the last time were asked to come see him in the hearse since his body cannot enter the yard. In our culture someone who was killed or died from an accident is not mourned the same way,  it is said if his coffin enters the yard it will bring a curse to the family that will bring a lot of death in the same way. Sad part about all of this is that after everything Tswarelo went through before his death his body couldn’t enter his home for the last time. The service was beautiful every speaker spoke truth even his church members from ‘Church of God and Saints of Christ’,  it was a shock to some people who thought they knew him that he was religious and was baptised. Again the attendance from the LGBTIQ+ was limited and majority where friends,  ex schoolmates,  ANC youth league members and church members. I got a lift from an old friend Lindiwe with Lesego, Lebo Magaela,  Vuyelwa ‘Vuvu’ Mtsweni, and Kabelo, the journey to the cemetery was long because there were so many cars. We the LGBTIQ+ members that were present sang comrades songs sending away our fellow member off while I documented with the help of Lebo. Apart from everything that hurt me it was a beautiful and memorable funeral and to Tswarelo la ulele khona,  your execution will not silence us. Let your spirit live in the people you have touch lala ngoxolo muntu omusha

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Posted in Black lesbian murder, Black lesbian murdered in Daveyton, Black Lesbians & Allies Against Hate Crimes, Brutal murders of black lesbians in SA, Documenting hate crimes, Funeral, Funeral costs, funerals, Gay, Hate crime, Hate Crimes, Hate crimes Victims names, Iko Mash funeral, Lesbian murdered, murder, Murder suspect, murdered, Musa Williams funeral, New Task Team on hate crime launched by DoJ in April 2014, Photographs from the funeral, Thapelo Makuthle's funeral documented by Zanele Muholi/ Inkanyiso, Uncategorized, Victim of hate crime in Ventersdorp, Well organized funeral, Zanele Muholi documented Thapelo Makutlhe's funeral in 2012 | Leave a comment

LGBTI Destiny First Gathering

Text by Maureen Majola

Photos by Ts’episo Mahooe

A group of femme lesbians from Mpumalanga but currently residing in joburg decided to come together and form a group that will tackle issues that are faced by same sex couples and individuals on a daily basis. Their aim is to speak about issues that we don’t normally speak about as homosexuals and find ways to have healthy lasting relationships. The event took place on the 5th of October 2019 in Witbank at Klipfontein Dam. People came out wearing their denim and white clothes, looking fresh like the bright spring sunshine.


The turn up in numbers wasn’t that good due to a number of other events that were happening like Pretoria pride, which is about an 1h30 minutes away from Witbank. This event happened a week after soweto pride which means some people spent a lot of money to attend and participate at Soweto pride therefore couldn’t make it to the event.

The day continued despite the number of people who attended and one of the speakers not showing up because of that. I was also one of the speakers to tackle a few topics. The topics were as follows:

  1. Dealing with family estrangement
  2. Marriage in our time (Cohabitation)
  3. Intimate partner violence
  4. How can you rebuild trust
  5. Blended families
  6. Behaviour change (what makes things to change in a relationship)
  7. Challenges we face as women dating women.

We were not able to discuss all the topics since one of the speakers didn’t show up. We first tackled number 6 and 7 as an open discussion. During that discussion a lot came up from the two topics that led us to discussing them a bit longer than we thought.

PHOTO-2019-10-08-08-01-50 2

The group spoke about how when we enter into a relationship we want to impress the new person in our lives that once we have won them over we stop doing the little things we used to do to impress them. They expressed how that particular change plays a negative role in a relationship and how one party will start feeling like they were sold dreams and that everything they based their relationship on a lie. We came up with a solution that we should enter into a relationship when they are ready to do so and when there is no need to mask yourself to impress the next person.

We spoke about how one needs to be emotionally, spiritually and mentally ready to start a new relationship because most of us are broken, hurt and are in deep pain because of our Sexuality. We have had to go through so much because of our Sexuality and the families we come from. Being a black woman, raised in a black society under cultural norms and beliefs also plays a huge role in breaking us and keeping us trapped inside ourselves. We are a community of broken people who are continuously breaking each other because of our past experiences and that has to stop with our generation.

The discussion led us to discussing cohabitation and how most of us end up living with our partners due to family estrangement. In these set up we often find ourselves compromising who we are and what we believe because we are seeking family and shelter. We are seeking for a place to belong and a place to call home even if the environment is toxic and abusive. Most of us end up staying in toxic relationships because we have nowhere else to go and sometimes we leave that one toxic relationship only to enter into another one.

From all the discussions we had I discovered how much we need healing and how the teachings of our parents of burying our issues and sweeping them under the carpet has affected us as the 21st century generation and how we need to move away from that and start living our lives according to our own values and standards. We ought to let go of all our pain and fix ourselves for ourselves so that when we enter into a relationship we are complete and fill people and we are ready to love the next person because we love ourselves first.

We spoke about how the church still plays a role in keeping us trapped and running from who we are because we try so hard to please our Christian families that we end up in marriages that we know won’t work and we compromise ourselves for them. Some mentioned how they can’t even attend church due to their sexual orientation and we told them how we have found a home in Victory Ministries Church International which is an all inclusive church that allows us to worship God in our own skin and how we are not judged for who we date but we were given the opportunity to serve God and participate in any church proceedings.


And we mentioned that there are many more churches like this one, that they can attend and feel welcomed and have the ability to express their love for God without judgement. In conclusion I expressed how we all broken people trying to heal other broken people and that we enter into relationships we need to know that we will be carrying double the burden if we don’t deal with our own burdens thoroughly and heal before we get into new relationships to avoid bleeding on innocent people. We need to be gentle with ourselves and our friends. We have been through the most as a minority. We need to heal and move on.

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Posted in 1st Mpumalanga Pride, Baitiri Lumka Seleka; Charmain Carrol; Kopano Sibeko; Lerato Dumse; Lesego Tlhwale; Maureen Velile Majola; Nation Mokoena; Nqobile ZL, Baitiri Lumka Seleka; Charmain Carrol; Kopano Sibeko; Maureen Velile Majola; Lesego Tlhwale; Lerato Dumse; Nation Mokoena; Nqobile Zungu; Rene Mathibe; Zanele Muholi, Bread and tea before 1st Mpumalanga Pride 2014, Complicated Lesbian Relationships, First Mpumalanga Pride, From Mpumalanga to Johannesburg, Gender Based Violence in same sex relationships, Intimate relationship, Maureen Velile Majola, Mpumalanga, Mpumalanga province, Open relationships, Relationship, Relationships, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

2019 Sep. 24: Ekurhuleni Pride takes over Daveyton for first time ever!

by Lindiwe Dhlamini

 It is that time of the year in Gauteng where LGBTIAQ+ Pride protests and celebrations take place. On the 14th of September 2019 I had the opportunity to attend Ekurhuleni Pride. Celebrating its 11thyear; for the first time ever, it took place in Daveyton hosted by EPOC LGBTI and Daveyton Uthingo – The Rainbow which are both LGBTIAQ+[1]organizations in that area. The theme was LGBTIAQ+ and religion which saw members of the LGBTIAQ+ community marching in their religious uniforms in celebration of who they are.


It was particularly fascinating to see Reverends in their clerical gowns, in attendance and leading the Pride march. Rev. Klass, Rev. Nokuthula Dhladhla, Rev. Sibisi, Rev. Emma and Rev. Tebogo Moema marched proudly around the streets of Daveyton shouting, “End homophobia in churches, communities and our homes”, “End Gender Based Violence and End Xenophobia”.Escorted by a Brass Band that serenaded the crowd with both gospel and protest songs in efforts to create awareness that is so badly needed in townships about the existence of LGBTIAQ+ people. Representatives from The City of Ekurhuleni were among those who came to show their support and to address the crowd about its plans to work together in advancing LGBTIAQ+ rights.


Also, in attendance were; Ekurhuleni Metro, South African Police Service, Department of Health, Aurum, Access Chapter 2, Daveyton TV and guests from Tshwane, eMalahleni and other surrounding areas in the East Rand. I was there with Inkanyiso Crew to document this historical event; importantly, to go and visit one of the organizers Lesiba Mothibe in hospital. Lesiba is a member of EPOC LGBTI and a Brave Beauties participant a photographical project by Professor/Sir Zanele Muholi, documenting the lives of transwomen. What a strong beautiful woman who was still helping to organize Pride while lying in a hospital bed; from all of us at Inkanyiso Media we wish her a speedy recovery.


At the park where the rest of the festivities for Pride were taking place, I had the opportunity to interact with some of the people through the #SelfieWithLindiwe for Instagram and Facebook. I met a lot of interesting people who were very keen and excited to take selfie’s and have recorded conversations about their experience at the first ever Pride to be held in Daveyton. I had a wonderful time interacting with the people and hearing some of the most beautiful and inspiring stories about love, art, life, issues affecting the youth etc. I also enjoyed meeting Queer parents who came with their children to Pride. The community of Daveyton came out to support even though some of them did not know what the event was about. I met some of the Queer identifying people who were attending Pride for the first time. “I have never been to Pride before because it always takes place far from Daveyton and I cannot afford the transportation fee. I am very happy that this time they thought of us gay people who are unemployed and brought it to our neighborhood. It is very nice being here!” – Thabiso Pooe

It was a bit disappointing not to see some of the well-known LGBTIAQ+ organizations and activists from Gautengin support Ekurhuleni Pride. This was a concern that was raised by some of the attendees at Pride. While doing voice pops, I met Busisiwe Nhlapo an out and proud bisexual identifying mother who expressed; “I am very happy that finally Pride came to Daveyton it is amazing to see our community coming out to support us. However, it is sad to see that people from Soweto are not here to support us but we always go to support them”. Speaking to some of the organizers of the event they also expressed their dismay at the lack of support from the big organizations and activists from around Gauteng. Nonetheless, the success of the event and the community support made the 11th anniversary of Ekurhuleni Pride spectacular.

Although we missed some of the performances that took place as we had to go to the hospital to see Lesiba; the reviews from the people I interviewed were great to say the least. I saw some of them on social media and I can attest that; LGBTIAQ+ talent deserves bigger stages and audience. The support from the community of Daveyton was good some of them did not know what the event was about while others had a clue. I loved that those who knew that it was Pride came prepared to educate while having fun. I do applaud the organizers for working hard to put that event together and ending it successfully with no reports of any violence. I do hope all the stakeholders who attended and gave speeches of support do follow through and do more to educate people in Ekurhuleni about LGBTIAQ+ people.

[1]LGBTIAQ+ = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, Intersex, Asexual and Queer/Questioning+

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