2019 Feb. 14: Remembering to breath during Lesotho XP.

Text and Photos by Tsebo Phakisi

I should have known the first day I left home to attend the weeklong Photo XP workshop that my life would change. I should have felt that the week would be a thrust so powerful and divine that I would have to remind myself to breathe through tears, profound fulfilment and utter disbelief.

Instead, I glided past the cluster of houses that form my neighbourhood with a sense of pride at not being late. I thanked God and my ancestors for ushering me into another day. I affirmed my worth and claimed a life full of abundance, clarity and radical love. As the taxi inched towards town, anxiety threatened to wrap itself around my lungs. Breathing became a bit difficult. I bit the skin at the tips of my fingers and let my eyes rest on the bodies and cars and buildings and stalls and that we passed.

Towereng. Jump out. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Stop. Left. Right. Left. Human. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Turn. Ouh La La.

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I spotted Sisters just as I walked through the gate and past the eyes that greet you upon entering Ouh La La. I was glad to see that the people she was sitting with were ‘Maleballo and Keaboka. Relief washed over me at the thought of having more people I know to survive the week with. While the facilitators had a meeting, ‘Matlali and I caught up. Being anxious made keeping quiet difficult.

Before we introduced ourselves, before Tambu made us dig into ourselves, before I felt almost incapable, we toiled around waiting for the keys to Alliance Francais hall. I sat next to ‘Matlali because I knew I’d need a hand to hold and maybe a shoulder to cry into and I was sure I could cry into hers. Lineo then passed the welcoming remarks on behalf of Ba re e ne re with Zach looking at her softly. Lerato Dumse le Lebogang Mashifane introduced themselves and left me shook.

Seeing faces I recognised from Muholi’s celebrated Faces and Phases right in front of me made me blabber when I introduced myself as Tsebo Phakisi: a wild, talkative, disruptor and killjoy. Then ‘Matlali followed with her baritone voice reaching out from her. ‘Maleballo with her somewhat deep voice called our eyes and eyes to her. So did Tambu with her quirky idiosyncrasies. Letuka, Ts’episo and Keaboka followed. Each with shyness hugging their faces.

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The objective of the workshop was to creatively document Gender Based Violence through a fusion of photography and literatures. We had to develop a concept of our shoots and then Go shoot. The discussion focused on unpacking Gender Based Violence, locating what narrative we wanted to portray using our images. ‘Mats’eliso arrived and I listened attentively to everyone and watched as we collectively built a creative tapestry out of vulnerability, laughter, questions and support. The clock struck 5 forcing us to pack and go our separate ways.

We were to reconvene at 12 the following day. Something had shifted in me. Something was growing in me, I thought as I sat in the comfort of my dark room while everyone dived deeper into sleep.

Day 2

I woke up early, sat with myself and mapped how I had expanded from yesterday. My voice had sounded loud and sure when I spoke. I rambled as I usually do but with a new amount of confidence. I thought about how I would bring the idea of communal healing to life through images. I knew I wanted the images I’d present at the end to be soft and gentle. But how was I going to translate softness into an image? The words and I would dance and create something soft. Would the images be soft enough and disposition the gory, hard, bloody narrative that images centred around Gender Based Violence portray? I prayed and affirmed my place in the world. I said a prayer of gratitude for life, the opportunity to learn and tune inwardly as I got out of the house.

I was early. Again. Maiso arrived and we both shared how stressful yesterday was. My neck and head had been stiff when I got home. I was thinking so much that I had to nap to stop thinking. The conversations we had danced and sometimes flashed through my mind.Women. Blood. Marginalization. Men. Patriarchy. Money. Violence. Violated.Other participants filed in and soon, we were laughing at the unexpected intense turn the workshop took. Thereafter, Lineo and Zach arrived followed by Tambu. Lebo’s loud and unique voice announced her’s and Lerato’s arrival. A recap of Day 1 happened and I saw that there was a certain amount of heaviness the other participants and I shared but we smiled and laughed it away. We had to go shoot and bring out concepts to life. Our field trip began with us stuffing makoenya, lichips le russian into our faces.

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Then we walked passed people, buildings and cars seeing images, stories and potential. Something was growing inside as my long legs leapt forward despite wanting to curl under a tree. I was interested in the involvement of community in healing from violence. Images of old women with grey hair, clothes wrapped around their bodies revealing their sharp, bold shoulders kept flashing in

front of me. I could see my grandmother somewhere in the image that danced before me. I could feel hands roam the length of my body: pressing, cradling and holding me. I knew I had to photograph hands. Conversation rose and fell as we approached Queen 2

We were looking for herbs for Maiso’s concept, unconventional looking girls and women for Ts’episo’s, men who would speak to the violence men experience for Letuka’s, spontaneous shooting for ‘Matlali who had taken stunning self portraits the previous day. Something bubbled up in me when I remembered Muholi would have arrived when we got back. I grew silent. Indeed they were there when we arrived some with photos and some with stories. I saw their hair first and turned around then walked in to where the water was. When I extended my hand to greet them, their face broke into a wide smile that left their teeth on the open.

I would later learn during the week that Muholi’s joy and smile are thick. Almost like a saving grace. We sat down and Muholi asked how the field trip was. Their isiZulu accent bit heavily into the English words that sometimes flew out of their mouth. Muholi had come with Thobeka whose silence and gentleness colonised every corner she occupied. I hadn’t seen grace personified as it was within and around TK. Muholi instructed us to move fast and betray our innate Basotho docile and meek nature.

Something was being stirred in the room. They were undoing difficult and forcing us to see how capable we were. An overwhelming cloud lingered in the room. I realized that not only did I have to think out of the box but I had to dismantle the box entirely. It was amazing to see the synchronicity that the Inkanyiso team had. There were at least two cameras in the room and recorders sprawled on the table recording the conversation.

I learned that this was how you create an archive. Muholi spoke with authority and greatness and asked the same from us. With boxes of pizza, bags and equipment in tow, we moved outside and sat on the lawn. Muholi had walked in and injected the workshop with a sense of urgency. Time is important, they kept emphasizing. Shooting groups were formed, ‘Matlali, Maiso, Lebo and I hit the ground running.

The sun was low enough to make beautiful photographs. Disbelief permeated the air as we ascended the thaba ea Paramenteng. An invincible thread of friendship was wounding itself around us our eyes darted quickly looking for possible images. I ended up topless with a full heart, beautiful images, a throbbing head with three people I had fallen deeper in love with. Tomorrow was an early day. There were many blank pages of assignments that needed to be filled.

Sleep. Gratitude. Disbelief, a sprinkle of fear, anxiety and a full heart lulled me to sleep.

Day 3

 Started early. My voice was deeper than it usually is. Sleep clung to my eyelids making them heavy. I was proud of myself for showing up. I picked up Mats’eliso and we were both shooook. We had been in the room with Zanele Muholi. She was going to shoot with Zanele Muholi. Our laughter was tinged with nervousness. The workshop was unfolding so quickly. So intensely. It was presenting monstrous, life changing opportunities. We were being forced to stand in our power. To reclaim our stories and three hours of sleep.

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I watched as Mats’eliso and her Nikon camera became close friends as we waited in the parking lot of Mohokare Guest House. We were seeing images. Directing each other to move to the left a bit. To hold it right there. Come forward. Stop. Lovely. We were starting to believe we could create lovely images. That we are lovely and deserving. Finally, Tambu and Muholi arrived. The plan changed as we sat to have breakfast. It was then that I watched Muholi’s face become a sweltering smile. It was also on that table when we cried together and held space for Ts’episo with Muholi erratically making us aware of the magic the banal holds.

That breakfast meeting set tone for the rest of the workshop. The days that followed were full of vulnerability, honesty, life changing growth, work, frustrations. We were to frame, focus and shoot. We had to raise our voices. To stretch. To date each thing we wrote. To see images. To write about the clitoris. To commit to documenting our lived realities. To photographing Lesotho. To taking a self portrait everyday. To loving fiercely. To believe we are worthy. To strive towards being our best selves. To show up. To be excellent. To hone and nurture our craft. To being the best.

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And now I am here. Wilder. More gentle and believing that the world is my oyster. We didn’t survive. We cried. Ate. Laughed. Panicked. Wrote. Sang through the week. For which I’ll be eternally grateful.

Posted in 2019 Lesotho Photo XP, 2019 Photo XP, About PhotoXP, African, African continent, Art, Arts, Breasts, Documentation; Filming; Photography; Community, Documenting, Documenting our lives, Families and Friends, Gender Based Violence (GBV)., History of PhotoXP, Lesotho, Mothers, Myself, Naked, Photo assignments, Photo session, photographers, Photography, Photography skills, Portraits of the Self, Portraiture series, Presentations, Self love, Self-worth, Sexual Liberation, South Africa, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2019 Feb. 13: Ba Re Ne Re Photo XP – A career and life altering experience

Text and Photos by Mats’eliso Mots’oane

January 28th: In December 2018, Lineo who is a good friend of mine told me that Prof. Zanele Muholi would be visiting Lesotho as part of a workshop with Ba Re Ne Re. Ba re is an organization whose work has always been close to my heart. When she mentioned Muholi’s name my face lit up with excitement, without hesitation I told her ‘count me IN.’

Fast forward to the morning of January 28th 2019. On the day the workshop started, I had completely forgotten about it. Instead I was going through the usually really frustrating emotions of my everyday life, PMS, grocery shopping, job hunting. I arrived at Alliance Française more than an hour late, quickly snuck in and tried to catch up. The first thing I noticed was Muholi’s absence, I was however quickly consoled by the positive and warm welcome that I received from everyone else.

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The first day of the workshop was dedicated to coming up with concepts surrounding the topic of Gender-Based-Violence, needless to say there was a lot of discussion and debate involved. Issues of bodily autonomy, physical abuse, emotional and psychological abuses and other never ending violations that fall under the GBV umbrella. What stood out for me though, was how organically occurring the conversation was amongst the participants. I appreciated that we were able to easily bounce ideas off one another, even more that we were generally in agreement about how we all viewed and interpreted violence and abuse. The hard part was yet to come though… capturing images of these violations, or some of the emotions involved between the trauma and healing processes.

The first thing I thought of was capturing objects that helped women to heal. Personally, I have always been the type of person who needed an escape, a sort of non-human support structure to help me forget or at least come to terms with traumatic experiences. When it was my turn I shared this idea, everyone seemed to like it. I was moved however by the idea of traditional/herbal medicine and the relationships African women usually have with this practice. This concept literally chose me, I hadn’t thought of it before, I had never even considered that perspective as something worth exploring. All I knew was the relationship I had with herbs and it dawned on me in that moment that there may be other women out there with similar ties to their traditional practices.

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I left that session feeling really empowered. I was proud of myself for coming up with the concept. I had no idea how I would capture images that really spoke to the message I was trying to put forward but I can proudly say I stuck to this theme throughout the week.

January 29th: I arrived twenty minutes early, camera charged and ready to go. We were to start shooting on that day. I did not anticipate how challenging that day would be. The more I thought about it, the more anxious I became about doing justice to the concept of GBV, how does one even capture images on this theme?? My research instincts immediately kicked in, I would conduct an interview with my local herbalist. I figured this would help me solidify my concept and possibly even get images that relay my message. All I got was 4 pictures of different herbs sitting on the herbalist’s shelf. Having learnt the rules of photography, I now know and can admit those pictures are trash. I was low-key in panic mode. I started asking myself questions like ‘what are you doing here?’ I have always loved photography, I deeply appreciate all sorts of art. I have photographer friends whom I have been captured by. I have a partner who has an almost innate gift of capturing moments with honesty. What about Me?

I have always been stronger with words, living under the impression that despite my love for visual art, I did not have the gift to produce it. So I quietly shut the door, which held my curiosity and desire to pursue any kind of visual art. Myself and four other participants walked the streets of Maseru that day, looking for stories. We may have not gotten the images we wanted, some of us got no pictures at all, but we got the stories and they truly were worth our time. I was so moved by how easily some of the women we ran into opened up about their stories of abuse, I was grateful for sisterhood. After about an hour and a half of shooting, we met Prof. Muholi back at Alliance Française.

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They were so welcoming and polite. There is something about their energy that really made me feel welcome. Despite their fame, Prof. Muholi is such a warm hearted person. I could tell this the moment I held out my hand to shake theirs. The rest of the day was quite short, we had lunch together and were assigned facilitators to go out on the field and shoot with. I was meant to shoot with Prof. Muholi and Ts’episo but I decided to tag along with Lebo’s group. We took a taxi up to the Parliament Hill. Tsebo, ‘Matlali, Lebo and I, walked around taking pictures of each other, the country and everything around us. This was one of the highlights for me. There were a lot of good moments and memories made that evening.

There were 5 doll heads that we found semi-buried in the sand. A really peculiar thing; we had all sorts of theories for how they could have gotten there. I got one of my favorite shots that day. The three days between the 30th and the 1st February were a rollercoaster of greatness. We shared some moments of vulnerability and a kind of intimacy as we talked about issues that most affected us as vaginal bodies. We cried, and laughed and shared poetry that we were requested to write every day. The breakfast table was usually the starting point for these engagements. On the Wednesday, some of us shared a piece of writing that we had either done in the past or the day before. Tears were shed. Weights were lifted. I was so grateful to be there. As the day unraveled it got a bit overwhelming.

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That night I slept with the words ‘you have to move faster!’ ringing in my head. Muholi pushed us throughout the workshop to value our work by actually putting in work. They complained a lot about the slowness of our country… They were right, people here have close to no sense of urgency. Although I am not used to being in a cutthroat working space, I appreciated the way we were pushed, it was a great exercise on work ethic. I thought to myself ‘this is the stuff that makes people great, I am trying to be great.’

The more pictures I took, the more I fell in love with the art of photography. At first I felt a little insecure about my work, a lot of people can attest to that. However I slowly started becoming comfortable behind the camera. I owe much of this to the support we got from the Inkanyiso facilitators. Lebo was especially active in helping everyone get the shots they wanted and so on. In addition to appreciating photography so much more, the space that the workshop created made it feel safe to be an artist, to dig deep within ourselves and produce words and pictures that were not just beautiful but also meaningful.

All the photo shoots we did from the assignments given to us, to trying to capture our concepts, the participants stuck together as a team. We complained as a collective, worked as a collective and celebrated together when someone took a good picture. On the last day of the workshop participants gave a presentation of their five best pictures. I complained all afternoon about how I had taken too many pictures to choose only five, but when time came to prepare for the presentation it was almost like the images chose themselves.

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With each one of the pictures I remembered, who or what I was shooting, why I was shooting and where I was. I came out of that presentation feeling empowered. It felt like such a huge transformation from how I felt on Monday when we started. I remain so grateful for the opportunity, but above all else for the fact that I now feel free to create. I haven’t been able to put my camera down since the workshop ended.

 

Posted in 2019 Lesotho Photo XP, 2019 Photo XP, About PhotoXP, African continent, Arts, Discussion, Documentary, Documentation; Filming; Photography; Community, Documenting, Gender Based Violence (GBV)., Healing feeling, Intergenerational mo(ve)ments, Lesotho, Public spaces, Traditional healing, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2019 Feb. 12: Killing of DUT student unnecessary

by Ntsiki Jacobs

The senseless killing of Durban University of Technology (DUT) student, Mlungisi Madonsela, is an unnecessary massacre to an issue that is long overdue and which the Government should have prioritised post-apartheid in 1994. The 2015 Fees Must Fall protests gave rise to an issue that the Government had swept under the carpet despite promises of a better, free education for all especially for those who could not afford to pay their University fees.

The manner in which the institution addressed the issue showed that our students are not prioritised. The security measures employed by institutions of higher learning have become a life threat to the students.

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These are institutions that cater for more than 1000 000 (1 million) learners according to Statistics SA data of 2016. The Department of Education has also done little to no efforts in addressing these penning issues by students. The positive matric pass rates each year should symbolise the hunger of the younger generation to further their studies and acquire a more skilled qualification as currently the highest paying jobs such as software engineering, aircraft pilot, lawyer, IT manager, medical specialists etc require a formal higher education qualification. With an unemployment rate of over 58%, of which 7.3% are graduates and an unstable economy, South Africa is in a compromised economic state that requires drastic measures to be taken to try to stabilise the economy.

Education is key in empowering the nation and producing more skilled professionals to compete in the global market. This is the space in which the country can gain much-needed Foreign Direct Investments. However it is slowly becoming a diminishing concept in most African countries as foreign investors are becoming reluctant to invest in a dying economy.

If our institutions of higher learning are still failing to address issues raised by the students in a country where majority of citizens are the youth, then we have a greater challenge in our leadership structures which needs to be addressed as clearly someone is not doing their job effectives. The availability of NSFAS only opens doors to unneeded debt that much of the middle class society of South Africa finds themselves in. This is not favourable in a growing economy where the focus should be on the betterment of lives of citizens to ensure that the country moves in sync with developed nations.

It is high time that our focus shifts to important issues instead of petty issues that seem to crowd our media’s focus. The issue of a fair, free education should be a priority of the ruling party and this should take centre stage in the current manifesto of the ANC Government especially in a country where the average household income has declined from R20k to R18k in 2018.

The formal learning institution’s increase of fees by 8% did no justice to an economy that is predicted to shrink to poverty levels due to high increases in basic needs services and declining monthly wages. NSFAS should not be the only solution to the current state of higher learning institutions as the country can shift funds from services that are not as detrimental as obtaining a formal education is to the future of the country.

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With the national elections around the corner, this is a crucial time and platform for all parties to view the issue of funding free education at all education levels with the exception of private institutions, which are offered on choice basis. We cannot sit and watch as our future leader’s parish whilst fighting for injustice in a society that has already gone through the strains of apartheid and the 1976 student massacres, which are not necessary in this day and age.

This diminishes any sense of a free and fair election as our country is still under oppression from the current Government who after 25 years is still trying to close the gaps of apartheid and losing focus and direction of where other countries are going. This is the time for South Africa is to hit the ground running, erase the impacts of the past and instead learn from mistakes done by those who were in power during that era and find a healing space that will benefit both its citizens and raise the economy.

We cannot stand on the side-line and watch our children being senselessly killed by the same people who are entrusted with the responsibility to protect them and empower them so that they can be independent professionals whose contribution will have a direct impact to our economy. This is not a case of a bad Minister nor is it a case of bad law implementation but it is a case of strategically planning for an anticipated future and putting plans into action. This is the time of less talk, less promises and more action. We have heard the same promises for the past 25 and these have frankly turned into a dull fairy tale book, where all we hear is politicians high and eloquent lingo but no actions taking place at the bottom of the food chain where cost citizens of this country are located.

To the Madonsela Family, our deepest condolences and our sincere apologies on behalf of our country that has not shifted from the era of senseless killings whenever freedom of speech and expression is exercised. We apologise for the colonised mentality that is not yet ready to follow global trends. We apologise for the bloodshed in a democratic country where blood has already been shed for freedom. We apologise for not being free enough to sit and discuss our issues but always resort to violence and cruel decisions that cause more pain than relief. We apologise for not standing behind the students as a nation and saying until our children are given a free, high quality education for free, we are not voting!

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2019 Feb. 9: Retraction: Seven Days in Lesotho

We would like to express sincere apologies for an article posted on the blog yesterday (February 8) sharing reflections from one of our writers following a recent visit to Lesotho. We have noted that the views expressed by the writer are not the full reflection of Lesotho. Lebo further extends personal apologies to Lineo Segoete for quoting her out of context including writing Maggots instead of Manganese. Our apologies further extend to all participants of the workshop.  We welcome the feedback and plan to continue engaging with the different individuals and groups who have taken us to task to revisit the text written. The decision to take down the article stems from the respect we have for the views and feedback received.

Thank you

Inkanyiso

 

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2019 Feb. 1: Day 5 Review Photo XP Maseru (The final day of the experience)

Text by: Thobeka Bhengu

Photos by: Thobeka Bhengu and Lerato Dumse

The first day of February 2019 was the last day with these young and brilliant Basotho women. The day started with breakfast as usual and later included a brief session with Muholi whilst the facilitator backed up footage from the previous day.

Muholi encouraged the participants to work on their biographies and make certain that they do not “short-change themselves” encouraging participants to mention all their accomplishments. Muholi also announced that the group needs to put together a proposal for the Women Mobile Museum, which forms part of the Mobile School of Photography. Participants will shoot Maseru landscapes, host exhibitions in public spaces and launch an official blog for the Maseru group where they will share the work that is being done in their country.

Tambu Muzenda facilitated an exercise where participants had to focus on themselves, relax their bodies whilst seated with eyes closed to avoid any distractions. The exercise focused on the space, awareness of what is in the space and to think about the moment they came into this room, what their expectations were and how these experiences have enriched them and have invoked something in them. After this intimate and relaxing session, the group of women shared some of the work they wrote.

Tsebo Phakisi shared a piece of writing about an incident where she got burnt by the oil when she was younger. Matseliso Motsoane wrote something about her name, which she paralleled to how the names that are given to us end up influencing who we become or what we do. Tambu also shared how she had taken back her name because of how there was always trouble that always followed her. To embrace her name, she had to associate the name with several positive words. I also had the opportunity to share with the group how I have moulded myself to follow my name and how it has been such a challenging process to uphold such a name provided how I grew up around an extremely violent space.

You have to choose every day to be a better person, to be non-violent and a non-toxic person. I also spoke about how we get toxic and violent towards others without acknowledging it. The sharing space had already been set up in such a way that the women started to dig in deep into the things and scars they have had to ignore. Before we knew it, it had been time to get lunch and a few minutes to stretch and breath. When lunch was finally served, the conversations continued, where Tambu shared a list of songs where women are crying for acknowledgement, for affirmation and women crying to be seen. These songs included: I am not your superwoman by Karen White, I will survive by Gloria Gaynor, I will always love you by Whitney Houston, Respect by Aretha Franklin, Willing to forget by Gladys Night and the list goes on. These songs speak to a certain type of violence and the ability to stay in relationships where we are not loved, the way we want to be loved.

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The participants later made selections of the images to present in the afternoon and the setup ensued. Mohokare Guest House conference room was booked and presentations took place. After setting up a projector for presentations, the first participant to present was Mamohlakola Letuka. Letuka’s concept under gender-based violence looked at the violence against men and her task was to go around Maseru and capture images of men who were willing to share their experiences.

The second presentation was from Matlali Matabane, who took portraits of herself and others to portray Gender-Based Violence using a timeline of images where the one picture relates to the other as some form of narrative.

After Matlali’s feedback, Tsebo Phakisi presented her images and concept which was separated into three parts, the first part interrogated the objects that are implicated in gender-based violence, the second part was about the modes of healing and the third part was about communal healing.

The next speaker was Matseliso Motsoane, who looked at her relationship with medicine, nature, and the relationship that women have with herbal medicine and how it helps them or guides them through issues of love, violence, self-awareness and self-love.

The last participant to present was Tsépiso Mahooe who displayed five images that seemed lighter in narration but were stronger visually. The images celebrated the beauty of different women who are part of the experience. The images were natural, showed their beauty and the love of oneself with flaws and all.

The overall feedback from Sir Zanele Muholi, facilitators and participants towards the presented work was encouraging and assuring that all participants will get to the same level of understanding and delivering as expected. The constructive feedback given was reassuring and it was also pointed out how the images could have been improved and how images are just as relevant as the narrative behind the image or the concept.

After all the participant’s presentations, Lineo Segoete shared images she also took during the experience and Lebogang Mashifane shared a short documentary that she put together in collaboration with participants. After the two presentations; participants, facilitators and guests shared their words of gratitude to Inkanyiso team and Muholi for bringing such an experience to Maseru. The session became heavy and emotional as everyone attempted to explain what this experience meant to them and how this experience has transformed them. Everyone recognized that this experience will contribute immensely in a new generation of black female photographers and creatives in Lesotho, the kind of creatives who have realised how much work needs to be done in Maseru, to ensure that there is an active visual archive in Maseru.

In the process, we also acknowledged that one of our own Maleballo Mokhathi could not be present due to funeral arrangements at home, the team expressed their deepest condolences and wishes of having her present. Just when we had closed off the session and wrapped up Maseru Photo XP 2019 experience, Maleballo walked in with her footage in her hand and a bright smile that lightened the mood.

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We are thankful for the love that Inkayiso team has received in Lesotho and may this relationship grow stronger as we move forward.

 

 

Posted in 2019 Lesotho Photo XP, 2019 Photo XP, About PhotoXP, Article by Thobeka Bhengu, Bringing photography to the community, Female Photographers, For the love of photography, Gendered photographs, Group photo, Reflection by Thobeka Bhengu, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2019 Jan. 31: Day 4 Review of the Photo XP Maseru

By Thobeka Bhengu

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Meditating, controlled breathing and preparing to get rid of heaviness. Image by: Lerato Dumse

The 31st of January commenced very early for the group. It started eagerly with an early morning exercise at the Ha Ratjomose Mountain. The lovely walk to the mountain is typically about 15 minutes long. By the time we arrived on top of the mountain nearly everyone was breathing heavily as a result of the walk and climbing up a steep.

The session facilitated by myself was intended to assist with gently releasing any tension in our bodies using thorough stretches and vocal exercises. The session took about 45 minutes and by the time we went carefully down the mountain going back to Mohokare Guesthouse for a hearty breakfast, our bodies were feeling a little lighter and stretched.

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Stretching and flexing muscles during the session. Image by: Lerato Dumse

This day had an extensive and hectic program. Participants were scheduled to shoot the whole day, in order to get as many images as possible to choose from for their final presentations. Their presentations entailed, selecting five images chosen by participants as their best and a brief presentation of each image employing the method of five five W’s & one H. These presentations are particularly methodical in the Photo XP. They are always intense as Sir Muholi and facilitators offer constructive feedback on the images presented by each participant. For that reason, the presentations are an important part of the experience, and students were aware that they had to push themselves and deliver good images that speak to their individual themes in relation to the overall theme of Gender-Based Violence.

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Participants responding to one of the workshops tasks while engaging with the GBV theme. Image by: Lerato Dumse

Two facilitators were present throughout the day to insure that should participants require any assistance it would be available. Participants were spread around the guest house shooting and trying to capture images they could be proud to present. The shoots went on for several hours until around 6h30pm when we all had to hastily prepare for Somnyama Ngonyama book celebration at Cafe What?

We all made our way to the venue to celebrate Sir Zanele Muholi’s Somnyama Ngonyama Book. The venue was a slight distance away from the busyness of Maseru CBD. Café What? is an artistic open space with images hanging for exhibition and a few tables where people were sit in a candlelit ambience with illuminating light from the bar and a projector screen that was used to project the Art21 documentary.

After the screening of the documentary, Muholi took the stage to respond to questions from the audience, moderated by Lineo Segoete. Muholi firstly thanked all the attendees for their time and generosity, as well as the owner and staff of Café What for allowing us in the space. Before responding to any questions, Muholi expressed how they do not feature strangers in their projects and provided a brief background of who Muholi is and how much they appreciate the beauty of Lesotho and being in Maseru. Attendees were thereafter given a chance to ask questions, the questions mostly revolved around Muholi’s work, their wisdom and activism. One or two questions were slightly personal trying to get to know Muholi as an artist and what keeps them going.

Muholi’s question and answer sessions are always authentic and civil conversations that open space for truthful dialogue with no topic off the table. In response to what keeps Muholi going, they responded: “What keeps me going is the love from the women that I spend time with, the women who understand period pains, the women who bleed and understand the pain of being.”

The session took about 40 minutes and at the end of the session, Somnyama Ngonyama books were put on auction after Muholi refused to sell them at the original price. The audience suggested the books are auctioned and 3 books were auctioned, allowing some attendees to head home with a copy of Somnyama Ngonyama.

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2019 Jan. 30: Day 3 Review of the Photo XP Lesotho Maseru

By Matseliso Motsoane

The schedule was reworked on the third day of Lesotho Photo XP and started with breakfast at Mohokare Guest House in Maseru. We shared the meal over some of the written pieces that the participants had done the previous day or work that they had from before the training.

It was an honest exchange about the power of our voices, being creatives and being celebrated. While some participants shared poems they had written the day before, others including Ts’episo Mahooa, shared previously written stories. Ts’episo shared a story that tugged at everyone’s heartstrings, a story which she was courageous enough to share with many other people through a publication called WordPower. We continued to go around the table sharing thoughts, ideas and art.

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After the check-in, Prof. Muholi challenged everyone to write assignments that would help each participant own their voices and really produce something out of their experiences. Still encompassing the theme of Gender-Based Violence, some of the topics that participants were asked to write about included Scars: how we get them and heal from them, The Clitoris, and Who am I and What do I want.

Lerato Dumse and Letuka Mamohlakula who had spent the entire morning searching for images in Maseru joined us later. Letuka’s concept was on telling stories about male victims of Gender Based Violence.

Using the concepts that they had come up with on the first day, the rest of the participants took to the field to produce photographs out of their ideas. The facilitators worked with participants in groups according to where each person wanted to shoot. One group, facilitated by Lebogang Mashifane drove to Masianokeng, which is on the outskirts of town.

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Lebogang Mashifane documents a training session with Lesotho Photo XP participants. Image by: Thobeka Bhengu

The group featured ‘Matlali Matabane, Ts’eli Motsoane, Tsebo Phakisi and ‘Maleballo Mokhathi, were able to capture some images that spoke to the concepts they had all come up with. They shot in and around a river called Phutiatsana. Each of their ideas showed themes like confinement, healing, violation and others. There was the challenge of time constraints in terms of the light needed to have a good shoot as the sun was setting. Another group went into town with Thobeka “TK” Bhengu where they went to search for faces for Ts’episo’s portraits.

The day ended around 21:00 after everyone’s memory cards were backed up for archives.

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A group photo was captured to mark the halfway mark of the photography training week. Image by: Pro. Z Muholi

Posted in 2019 Lesotho Photo XP, 2019 Photo XP, ‘South African Photographer’, Bringing photography to the community, Female Photographers, For the love of photography, Gendered photographs, Group photo, History of PhotoXP, I love photography, Photo assignments, Photography, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment