2016 Aug. 20: Lesego’s follow up

by Lesego Masilela

Our initial plan was to meet at Constitutional Hill, where we were supposed to do Faces and Phases 2016 follow up shoot. I ended up at Stevenson gallery in Braamfontein. I wasn’t sure if I should get in or wait outside because I’ve only been there when Zanele has an exhibition.

The security guard asked me why I’m there, I explained to him. I then asked if he knew Muholi. Security is tight there I must say, so I got inside and still I had to ring the bell so they could open another door for me. After they opened the door I went to the reception area, the were four people 3 females and a guy if I’m not mistaken. I told them I came to see Zanele Muholi and the guy told me to walk straight up and the 1st door on my right I should knock there. I don’t think I even knocked.

When I opened the door Muholi, Lerato and some lady were working. As always Muholi was all smiles and being her bubbly self saying Lesego ‘uswenkile’ we just laughed. I sat down, she spoke to that  which I forgot her name (not really good with names) about the follow ups while she was busy talking Lerato and I had our own chat she asked me where in Johannesburg do I live?
I explained that I don’t live there but I’m in a learnership in Johannesburg CBD, Zanele thought I said I live in Johannesburg but then I don’t blame her she has a lot in her mind.

Of course Muholi offered me something to drink and I took her coke. Put our bags in a safe place, she took her camera and put it in a strange bag saying abosikhotheni akafuni babone that she has a camera. It makes sense I mean, we live in notorious Johannesburg anything is possible to happen they can mug us especially if they saw that we had valuable  assets. Lerato, Zanele and I went out but Lerato was out to buy food as for me and Zanele we were hitting to New town that’s were my follow up shoot was going to take place.

I think Zanele wasn’t at ease with us walking, I could tell that she’s not comfortable. Whereas me on the other hand I was chilled and tried to make small talks for her not to think a lot about someone trying to rob her. On our way she kept telling me about her work, how she got to Market Photo Workshop where she studied photography.  We were meeting with another participant of Faces and Phases Phumzile Nkosi, while waiting for her Zanele asked me to standby the red lockers. She started taking photos of me saying she’s testing, said to me  ‘I want to break this fashion thing that you have’. The photos captured for testing looked perfect to me, I really love them.

2016 Aug. 19 Lesego Masilela _ MPW red locker _Newtown

2011 - 2016 Lesego before and after

Lesego Masilela featuring in Faces and Phases series, photo on the Left was taken (2011) and Right one on (2016)

When Phumzile was done locking we all went outside, Muholi started taking more photographs of me, she instructed me on what to do. I struggled with what she asked me to do cause I don’t think I’m that photogenic. We moved to nearest place for more images took both me and Phumzile pictures. I don’t think she was satisfied about the photos cause she asked Phumzile to meet up with her the next day and the fact that the were dodgy guys passing were we were working I don’t think that made her comfortable at all.. Zanele loves joking and mostly we were all laughing at the things she kept saying.

Phumzile and her friend left and me and Zanele waited for an uber to come pick us up.

2016 Aug. 19 When Faces Meet _ Muholi Lesego Phumzile _0747

Faces and Phases participants, L-R: Muholi, Lesego Masilela and Phumzile Nkosi.

Related links

2016 Aug. 20:  When Faces Meet in Joburg


Previous links


2015 Sept. 2:  When Faces Meet in Gothenburg, Sweden




2015 Mar. 28:  When Faces Meet




2014 Nov. 19:  Faces and Phases (2006 – 2014) book launch in New York

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

2016 Aug. 20 When Faces Meet in Joburg

… we do what we do best.

Photos by Zanele Muholi

Camera used: Canon 6d with 85mm lens on tripod
How the photo was taken: 10 sec self timed…
What’s the occasion: Faces and Phases photo shoot

Who’s in the group photos below:  Faces and Phases participants

2016 Aug. 20 When Faces Meet ft Terra Sebe Rene Muholi _0866

L-R: Terra Dick, Sebe Langa, Rene Mathibe and Muholi Muholi


2016 Aug. 20 Group photo ft Muholi Phumzile & TK _ Auckland Park_0824

In Auckland Park with Phumzile Nkosi (centred) and TKay Kaula (right)






2016 Aug. 20 Group photo ft SJ Lerato Sade Lebo Terra Phumzile Rene Sebe Muholi Collen Lesego_3137

In Parktown with Faces and Phases participants and friends. Back row: L-R: Stefanie Jason, Lerato Dumse, Spola Solundwana, Sade Langa, Lebo and Terra Dick Front row: L-R: Phumzile Nkosi, Rene Mathibe, Sebe Langa, Muholi Muholi, Collen Mfazwe and Lesego Masilela



2016 Aug. 18 Muholi Pumeza Lerato Thembisa _ Willowvale_0662

In Willowvale, Eastern Cape with Muholi, Phura Ntonjane, Lerato Dumse and Thembisa Gonya



Previous links


2015 Sept. 2:  When Faces Meet in Gothenburg, Sweden




2015 Mar. 28:  When Faces Meet




2014 Nov. 19:  Faces and Phases (2006 – 2014) book launch in New York




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

2016 Aug. 3: Erection elections

Text and photos by Lebo Mashifane

I was awoken by a phone call from my grandmother asking me if I am going to cast my vote. Indifferent with the elections, I answered “yes” just to make my old Lady happy.
It’s funny how we don’t see alike when it comes to defining “freedom”.
Clearly Gogo is excited about practicing her freedom with a 13 digits barcode that seems to determine everything. I see it as a systematic incarceration. Gogo said to me this morning on the phone call that I should look my best, put on nice clothes and make my hair neat. I guess if I had some political party badge or a religious badge I would be told to wear it with pride today. All along the only thing I think of is that “I have an article to write”. Now that’s me exercising my freedom to write what I like. Well of course the other option is to go around the corner of my street where the voting station is and vote. Big deal black people vote; the youth finds it useless and the elders hold pride in voting. I am a generation caught in between with a question: what is freedom?






It’s windy and dusty and I can’t even take pictures. Service delivery from government is that we have tar roads, how ironic that the road where the voting station nearby is has no tar, just gravel and people are to stand in this dust to say they are free?
People in my hood don’t have houses and they need to cast votes?
Excuse me for not fully understanding the system that has left black people shackled in their own minds while other races and nationalities have built their heaven in our country.  A country made of boarders that make Africans turn against each other but obey non Africans.

I feel like I need to psych myself into believing in something to vote for. Well alas I joined my mother in the voting queue and asked her a lot of questions about this situation. She too strongly believes that we need to cast out votes because when she was young, they fought for this freedom even though she also admits that it has been rottenly tempered with by people who are currently in leading power.


“It is an insult to those who were part of that struggle.” She says.
I wish to vomit frustration at the voting station.
I get an angry erection from this election.
I wish to see IEC in ICU for a change of heart.
13 digits starting in 8905 is what it costs to paint my thumbnail and voice me “silently” ironically to a question,
What is freedom, but a state of mind?


Previous by Lebo Mashifane

2016 May 19:  Day 7 PhotoXP visual diaries



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

2016 Aug. 9: Look back and go forward

by Mbali Zulu

Mbali Zulu, KwaThema, Springs, Johannesburg, 2010 featuring in Muholi's Faces & Phases black and white portraiture series

Mbali Zulu, KwaThema, Springs, Johannesburg, 2010

Look back and go forward. Looking at the picture of the group
I am forced to look back and go forward.

What is it that I am looking back at?

What is it that I am going forward to?

One would probably ask these questions.
What impact did this weekend have on me?

What do I remember most about this weekend?

And would I be interested in attending another Yithi Laba conference?


Yithi Laba 2015 conference delegates

2015 Yithi Laba conference delegates

I am now looking back at the photo; history was made during this weekend. We were the first group to attend a conference in the Faces and Phases series. I feel honoured, I must say. Young black lesbians from different parts of South Africa were chosen to attend this conference. It was fun and educational. It made me realize that there will always be room for growth. One must have no room for limits, but  growth.

Looking back at the photo is actually a good thing, because now all I want to do is look forward, go faster, and push harder. I am motivated once again, it feels like yesterday. I was really motivated and still am. This group of people consists of intelligent individuals, gifted lesbians, big dreamers, free spirited souls, leaders and our mothers.

Our mothers who attended the conference, from L-R:  Mally Simelane and Mapaseka Mthunzi

Our mothers who attended the conference, from L-R: Mally Simelane and Mapaseka Mthunzi

Our mothers, now that I have mentioned them. A flashback just crossed my mind, a moment I will never forget, a very touching and important one. Let me fill you in, on Saturday we had a special visit from our mothers, I mean the mothers of young black lesbians. They were there to motivate us, to tell us their stories and experiences. I was really touched. I learned that we as young black lesbians are not the only ones who are affected, but the ones who are really close to us are affected as well, especially our parents. I learnt that we not the only ones who sometimes get victimized, but our parents also do, however what kept me going is that, they love us regardless of our sexuality. They really deserve our love and respect.

A very cold weekend it was, but the warmth that I felt there was amazing. Most of us knew each other from social networks and not in person. We were fortunate to share our stories and life experiences, we got a chance to know each other better and got to understand each other’s gifts. We had soccer players, visual artists, teachers, police, photographers, designers, poets etc. I actually thought to myself that, with this group of people, we can create a very powerful project. I didn’t know then, what was it, I still don’t know what’s it going to be, but I know that there will be. This is a very powerful photo, with powerful individuals and yes I’d like to attend another Yithi Laba conference.
Who wouldn’t?

leptie presents_5623leptie s photography_5209

Related link


2015 July 7:  A month later after Yithi Laba conference




2015 June 6:  Lesbian youth gather at Constitution Hill for the first ever Yithi Laba conference





Posted in A new visual history, Activists Act, Another Approach Is Possible, Appreciation, Archived memories, Art Is A Human Right, Art Solidarity, Article by Mbali Zulu, Articulation, Beautiful faces, Community work, Confidence, Creating awareness, Empowerment, Experience, Expression, Faces & Phases portraits, Faces and Phases (2006 - 2014) book launch..., Faces and Phases participants, Family and Friends, Family matters, Happiness, Human Beings, I love photography, Knowledge, Lessons learnt, Life, Life Stories, Living by example, Lovely words, Loving photographs, Mainstreaming our queer issues, Making history, Moments, Networking, Opportunity, Our lives in the picture, Participation, Politics of representation, Power of the Voice, Questions and Answers, Re-presentation, Reality, Recognition, Records and histories, Sharing information, Sharing knowledge, Sharing thoughts, South Africa, We Are You, We Care, We Still Can with/out Resources, Writing is a Right | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2016 July 28: See Me…

Text by Lindiwe Dhlamini
Photos by Luyanda Mthembu

Often in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Asexual, Queer + (LGBTIAQ+) community we have a tendency not to acknowledge one another. We tend to invisibilize one another without thinking twice about it. Despite the fact that we belong in the same community and have ‘some’ similar struggles that we are fighting for, we have become a community that works as a Pay-As-You-GO.
We are reactionary in our politics and many have given up the fight for equal rights because; the more things change, the more they stay the same. It is very troubling how we as the LGBTIAQ+ community talk and treat each other at events and other spaces that we occupy. What happened to unity, or solidarity as we call it?
What happened to intersectionality in our LGBTIAQ+ Prides?


2016 July 23 One Love marchers _ Durban Pride3_3005

2016 July 23 Durban Pride t-shirt_2992


I attended the Durban LGBTIAQ+ Pride Parade 2016 and I must say I feel that this was my last pride in Durban or any other city that hosts their Pride in the suburbs while visibility is needed more in the townships where our Black LGBTIAQ+ persons are assaulted, raped and murdered daily. I have to admit that LGBTIAQ+ Pride has totally lost context from what was envisioned by the likes of Simon Nkoli, Bev Ditsie and ‘others’ who started pride in South Africa. The political space that was meant to create awareness and highlight the plight of hate crimes that are directed at LGBTIAQ+ persons has now become a frivolous event that is filled with petty politics and liberals who have commodified the space for capital gain.


2016 July 23 Durban Pride audience_2955


2016 July 23 Durban Pride _ Rainbow flag _3044

In my opinion, LGBTIAQ+ Pride has lost the intersectional lens that many of us who are still in it for/with the same politics that is; to create awareness and educate about LGBTIAQ+ in an intersectional lens with hopes of alleviating the hate crimes. We are left with heavy hearts and uncertainty about the future of LGBTIAQ+ Pride. The gender identity/expression, class and race politics have been distorted by the rainbowism[1] bull***t that we are supposedly “equal” according to the constitution of South Africa. Moreover, the residential positionality of the attendants of LGBTIAQ+ Pride is/has been completely disregarded and we need to go back to the drawing board and teach each other what exactly LGBTIAQ+ Pride is about and for who(m) and the importance of LGBTIAQ+ Pride.


2016 July 23 Faces and Beauties crew _ Durban_9705

Braves Beauties, Faces and Phases participants and friends at Shaka Marine World in Durban. Photo by Lebo Mashifane

I can say one interesting part about my trip to Durban Pride was meeting the participants of Faces and Phases a project by Zanele Muholi. I have written academic assignments about them but, I have never had the pleasure of meeting them face to face. And when I got the opportunity to spend my Sunday afternoon with them, it was an honour to hear their stories in person. Furthermore, I got the pleasure of meeting the participants of the Brave Beauties the new project that Muholi is working on with transwomxn.

Amongst the Brave Beauties, I had the pleasure of meeting a young beautiful transwomxn by the name of Eva. Eva is deaf, and after Muholi alerted me to translate for her through text what was being said in the room, it was only then that I realised that I was also guilty of erasing her in that space. I felt so guilty and angry at myself for not thinking about translating for her before being asked by Muholi. After a while, I had to remind myself that I am human and I am still learning and unlearning a lot of things as a self-identifying Fallist [2].

The erasure in LGBTIAQ+ Prides is so rife and sickening, it does not only apply to those who live with disabilities but, there are many other people at LGBTIAQ+ Prides who get erased and it is so normalised that we don’t even question it. It is little things such as; ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ in our greetings. The violence of mis-gendering and erasing those who are gender non-conforming, gender non-binary etc. I remember at last year’s Durban Pride I argued with the organisers for gendering the toilets as ‘Male and Female’. This gender dichotomy was not only perpetuating erasure of those who do not identify with their cis-gendered-ness, but it was violent especially, in a space that is meant to be safe for all who belong under the LGBTIAQ+ community. Therefore, I infer that, it is these little things that we take for granted that contribute to psychological trauma of those who do not fall within the mainstream gender identity/expression(s). And until we commit to learning and unlearning we cannot claim that our LGBTIAQ+ Prides are inclusive and safe for all who identify as LGBTIAQ+. I wish for a pride that is political and speaks to the issues that are affecting us as LGBTIAQ+ persons, I cannot stress the importance of such a Pride especially with so many lives that we have lost in our community.

I want an LGBTIAQ+ Pride that sees me as a Black lesbian womxn from the township with lack of access to resources such as; safer sex barrier methods, poor health and safety services from government officials. I want an LGBTIAQ+ Pride that will acknowledges the risk I take to attend an event so far away from my township to create awareness in town, and go back to being victimised and threatened to be ‘corrected’ because of my sexuality in the township. I want an LGBTIAQ+ Pride that understands and acknowledges my/our intersecting identities as a Black poor womxn/LGBTIAQ+, who cannot afford the exorbitant entrance fees for me to celebrate after Pride party. I want an LGBTIAQ+ Pride that sees me not only as part of LGBTIAQ+ community, but sees my oppressions and addresses them.
I want to be seen, see me, not only when I become another statistic of rape and murder.



[1] Rainbowism – the concept that came with Nelson Mandela that ‘we’ are a rainbow nation and race does not matter (Fuck that s**t!)

[2] Fallist – a person who is determine to make all oppressions fall.


Related links


2015 Oct. 6: So Proud of Soweto Pride




2015 June 27:  My best Oslo Pride




2014 Oct. 8:  Beautiful faces and kisses from Soweto Pride 2014





Posted in 2016 Durban Pride, Academic, Another Approach Is Possible, Archived memories, Brave Beauties, Brave Beauties participants, cisgender, Creating awareness, Expression, Faces and Phases participants, Fallist, Gender Identity, Johannesburg comes to Durban, LGBTIAQ, LGBTIAQ struggles in Africa, mis-gendering, Oppression, PhotoXP photographers, Positionality, Power of the Voice, Pride March, Race politics, Rainbowism, South Africa, South African Constitution, transwomxn, We Are You, We Care, We Still Can with/out Resources, Writing is a Right | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2016 July 16: Nelson Mandela Day – Some Musings…

by Zuko Zikalala

Nelson Mandela Day has arrived, an annual day to commemorate the life and legacy of Madiba. As I write this, Doc Shebeleza’s kwaito music hit “Ebumnandini”, is still ringing in my head, not only because it is a great song that induces a heightened nostalgic among us 90s kids, but because of how we chose to commemorate the day this year. It is important that I mention kwaito music, how it played in the background at Mr. Butchers – a ‘braai and chillas’ hangout spot in Daveyton because it captured a genuine township sensibility. Moreover, the kwaito music genre highlights the necessity of a post-apartheid Black youth creating their own narratives in response to the urban landscapes which they find themselves in. It is about agency. When the Miss Gay Daveyton 2016 finalists in their their denim jeans and heels, loud, proud and fierce,  took to the streets it was clear that many LGBTQI folk in our township communities are rising up and challenging imposed narratives.

Because the actual day, 18th July falls on a Monday, many around the country chose to dedicate 67minutes of charitable service in their communities over the weekend.


2016 July 16 Mpho Nefuri & Senny Mzolo_2879
Zanele Muholi came through to Daveyton with her friends Mpho Nefuri and Senny Mzolo conducted a photo shoot at Mr. Butchers. Local residents and friends were enjoying good wine, beer and braai meat, and a group of young men huddled not too far off. Every now and then one would spot young children playing and running about like they knew their curfews were close, and yes, I will say it till you do the kwasa-kwasa, a kwaito playlist was booming in the air.

2016 July 16 Mpho Nefuri and Brave Beauties in Daveyton_2910


The Miss Gay Daveyton finalists all very keen for this year’s pageant, in between stopping traffic (literally!) with their poses, and shots, took time to mention what they would be doing this year as part of Nelson Mandela Day. Vilender Twala said that usually she helps with chores and activities in surrounding orphanges in her community, of Nigel and would be doing that most likely this year. Balang Khofu, stated that there two charity events that she would be taking part in; the first is with a company called Black Soul which will be supplying meals to charity organisations on the day. The second, which she spearheads, is a drive that is concerned with donating clothes and blankets for the needy in her community, she currently has five blankets. Funo Ndlangamandla, associated with the LGBTQ organisation Uthingo, which was founded by Lesiba Mothibe, usually participates in functions with the organisation. Uncertain of whether or not she would be involved with it this year because of work commitments, she revealed how every now and then she cooks and has meals with and H.I.V infected boy in her neighbourhood whom she sometimes helps with school uniforms and stationary, and that she had not seen him in a while and that she would be having lunch with him so as to catch up.

Of course, we also enjoyed some braai vleis and good music, the journey to the crowing of Miss Gay Daveyton continues. Walking the streets of Daveyton with the contestants, I could not help notice some of the gawks and stares of a select few in the community, these were not met with insecurity or shyness, but with pride and fierceness. Nelson Mandela Day is not merely about performing charitable works, it is a moment to pause and reflect on the legacies we have inherited and the work to be done in our community at large, the black LGBTQI project continues. I can truthfully say that visibility outside horrific news of violence against LGBTI is gained every time we enter  public spaces and dance, pose and just breathe. That’s what we did today.



Senny Mzolo I, Observatory, Cape Town (2011) 


For transwoman Senny Mzolo, who was visiting from Durban, today has been a very educational day. Before arriving in Daveyton, Muholi took her and Nefuri to the Constitutional Hill where she encountered the histories of Gandhi and Madiba. The music at Mr. Butchers took her back to when she was growing up, back when Boom Shaka, TKZee and Abashante dominated the airwaves. Mzolo, holds the titles of Miss Gay Durban 2009, Miss B-Zone 2004 and a 2nd Princess Gay UKZN. She is currently working on starting her own organisation which will be dedicated to raising awareness for transgender persons in KZN province. It will be focused on making access to facilities, doctors and psychologists. For Mzolo, today was about experiencing the love and affirmation from her community in Daveyton, she quite perceptively notes how the owner of Mr. Butchers was welcoming and open, and how the space in its entirety was gay friendly. These are the narratives that do not make mainstream news.





Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2016 June 26: All black everything at the Black Queer Social JOZI

Text by Rene Mathibe
Photos by Ndileka Lujabe & Xolile Magubane

Black Queers in Johannesburg were excited to hear that Queers on Smash was organizing a Black Queer social to be held at King Kong in Troyeville, Johannesburg on June 25th 2016. The first one was held in Cape Town last year and it turned out to be a success.  The build up to the Johannesburg event started off by introducing the guests and sharing their stories, experiences of being queer and black in Johannesburg.




The social focused on Black Queer people sharing their stories of being black and queer in the places they live in. Sizakele Phohleli, the author of “Letters to Cinnamon”, was the first speaker of the day. It is self-published book containing her poetry work. She describes her book as “a poetry anthology of love letters from one woman to another”. The book is written in four parts narrating different emotions such love, pain and anger. She recited some of the poetry for the crowd and Q& A followed as the crowd was so fascinated about who “Cinnamon” was.


FAKA presents


Thato Ramaisa and Buyani Duma were the second speakers. The duo go by the name “FAKA” and they explore alternative expressions of the black queer identity through video/performance and photography. Their style is vintage and they reference South African legends such Lebo Mathosa and Bongo Muffin. Their work documents a black queer identity that has not been documented in the history of South Africa.




The third speaker was Yoliswa Mqoco, a fashionista and a stylist. She shared her story of always being interested in fashion and coming from a family who loved fashion. She shared her experiences of being plus size and the lack of fashionable clothing being limited at most of the shops. “I decided that wanted to document my looks on a platform and about two years ago decided to get Instagram and my life changed forever. People and brands were being respective to me and it totally threw me for a loop because growing up I wasn’t always praised for my love for fashion, so I’m blessed that the country understands me and my art form now” (Yoliswa Mqoco).

Delta The Leo, a dancer, singer, rapper and Mc performed some of her music as King Kong started to fill up. The crowd was ecstatic as she set the mood for the evening. Her hip hop dance moves showed dedication and passion.  I had the opportunity to exhibit and sell some of my artworks which focused on the constraints and homophobic discrimination most black lesbians endure. Sizakele’s book “Letters to Cinnamon was also on sale.


Art works by Rene


Lady Skollie


As the crowd settled in and filled their tummies with hearty soulful food, beats from Lady Skollie, a Cape Town based DJ started pumping and the party had begun. The ambience was filled with happy queer people with no drama, but overwhelmingly filled with gayness!


artlovers @BQS



Previous link by Rene

2013 Feb. 7:  Art Is Where the HeART is





Posted in Another Approach Is Possible, Archive, Article by Rene Mathibe, Arts, Black, Black Queer Social, Black Queers, Creating awareness, Expression, FAKA, in Jozi, King Kong, Power of the Voice, Sizakele Phohleli, South Africa, Troyeville, We Are You, We Care, We Still Can with/out Resources, Writing is a Right | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment