2017 Sept. 28: NIKE Honours Young South African with exclusive edition BHM Sneakers

 

2017 Oct. 2 Bathini Dambuza BHM Sneakers _ Parktown _2762

Bathini Dambuza, a spiritual activist and a member of VMCI with a gift of sneakers from Muholi.

 

MEDIA RELEASE

Black History Month is commemorated every February in the United States of America, celebrating the achievements of black Americans.

Since 2005, it is also the month Nike unveils its distinct designs of Black History Month (BHM) products, leading with the iconic Air Force 1, paying homage to the achievements of black heritage, in sport and beyond, worldwide.

Nike recognizes the significance of BHM with not only a product collection, but a larger recognition of the power of sports to impact society.  It is an appreciation of a movement created by the Pan-African communities to fuel a purpose of equality.

To honour the global black history movement, and as part of this year’s 35th anniversary of the iconic Air Force 1, Nike produced a collection of bespoke BHM Air Force 1’s.

South Africa, at the heart of the African diaspora, is the first of three countries honouring individuals who are the future force, the chosen ones.

They are pioneers of their trade. Trendsetters and tastemakers who are charging ahead and blazing new paths while taking the rest of us into the future, who proudly wear their country’s heart on their sleeve, and are proudly African.

This inspired Nike designers to produce a signature sneaker fusing the country, the continent, and Pan-Africanism into an exclusive edition of BHM Air Force 1’s.

A graphic marblized print of South Africa’s national flag rests on the inner and outer of the all-black nubuck upper which rests upon a crisp white sole.  A gold hang-tag of the African continent motif with BHM emblazoned across it and the lace lock made up of tri-colours red, black and green inspired by the Pan-African flag also known as the Black Liberation Flag complete the sneaker. The socklier has the ‘equality’ message across it.

35 South African honorees were hosted at a special unveiling of the BHM Air Force 1 on Wednesday night at Lilies Leaf in Rivonia – the award-winning heritage site and once the nerve centre of the anti-apartheid movement.  It was a befitting backdrop to an intimate dinner served by Junior Chef of the Year, Terror Lekopa, during a month dedicated to appreciating the country’s diverse cultural heritage, beliefs and traditions.

 

South Africa’s Force 35 include: (alphabetical by name)

Amanda Dlamini – Professional Footballer, Olympian, Football Analyst

Anele Mdoda – Radio and Television Personality, Author, Occasional Comedienne

Anees Petersen – Fashion Designer, Entrepreneur

Black Coffee – International Award Winning DJ, Producer

Caster Semenya – Professional Athlete, Olympian, World Champion

DJ Fresh – Multi-talented DJ, Music and Television Producer

Doowap – Fashion Guru, Drum and Bass Queen

Greg Maloka – Musical Maestro, Radio Genius

Itumeleng Khune – Professional Footballer, South Africa’s leading Goalkeeper

Jamal Nxedlana – Creative Director, Photographer, Designer

Lady Skollie – Visual Artist, Activist

Laduma MaXhosa – Knitwear Design Extraordinaire

Lazi Mathebula – Illustrator, Designer, Sneaker Customizer

Lebogang Rasethaba – One of the Younger Film Directors

Luvo Mayonga – Professional Long Jumper, Olympian, World Champion

Mandla Sibeko – Chairman, Co-Founder of the Joburg Art Fair

Manthe Ribane – Graphic Designer, Dancer and Performer

Maria McCloy – Urban Culture Lover, Publicist, Journalist, Fashion Designer

Mary Sibande – Sculptor, Photographer, Visual Artist

Milkshake – Multicultural DJ and Producer

Mkay Frash – Sneaker Head, Undisputed King of Camo and Streetwear

Riky Rick – Rapper and Producer

Ruli Diseko – Relentless Entrepreneur

Scoop Makhathini – Television and Radio Presenter, Writer

Sho Madjozi – Rapper, Poet

Tarryn Alberts – Choreographer, Dancer

Tebogo Mohlatsi – Renowned Film Director, Revolutionised SA Television

Terror Lekopa – Junior Chef of the Year.

Thandiswa Mazwai – One of the most influential musicians in SA

Thando Moleketi – Food Writer, Traveler

Trevor Stuurman – Photographer, Creative Director

Tusa Mamba – Sneaker and Streetwear Trendsetter

Wandile Zondo – Co-founder of Thesis Lifestyle

YoMzansi – Sneaker Culture Bloggers

Zaid Osman – Sneaker Exchange Founder, Sneaker Head

Zanele Muholi – Visual Activist, Photographer.

 

 

 

Posted in #Butch Mbokodo  #Siyanqoba #InkanyisoMyFamily #QueerBeauty #ArtOfActivism, A new visual history, Activated queer spaces, Active Black Lesbian Artists in South Africa (ABASA), Activists Act, Alternative family, Another Approach Is Possible, Media Release, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2017 Sept. 11: ‘Brave Beauties’ Cape Town Chapter

by Zama Shange

On August  22, 2017 at 12h30, I received a WhatsApp text from Zanele Muholi: “Would you consider joining us for the Cape Town show to open on 31/08/17”. Needless to say I was stunned, and for a good ten minutes I did not know how to respond. My personal invitation from Muholi: not just any visual activist but THE worldwide excelling, breaking-all-barriers Visual Activist. As she would say nonchalantly, “Google me”.

I had only just met Muholi one week earlier, though I have been following her work for years, at Victory Ministries Church International (VMCI) church in Durban, South Africa. Who would have thought I made such an impression that I would receive the honour of being invited to be part of her crew for the ‘Brave Beauties’ Cape Town Chapter. Beyond blessed and humbled, I did not hesitate and submitted my leave at work immediately.


Day I

August 27, Cape Town Airport: the doors open, and I am greeted by a very cheerful Thembela ‘Terra’ Dick – a filmmaker who works closely with Muholi for for Inkanyiso. Terra’s welcoming attitude makes me even more excited. Terra is not alone: Malibongwe Swane, and three gorgeous ladies, dressed to kill with faces so perfect, you would swear they were done by a make-up artist… ! The two ladies are participants in Brave Beauties, Kim Monoto, Miss Tee Menu and Mellisa Mbambo. A few minutes later the arrival doors open again, and then the Brave Beauties from Johannesburg appear. Again, you could swear they just walked out of a Vogue magazine shoot, and the airport floor was their runways.

 

2017 Aug. 31 Brave Beauties @ Gender Dynamix_0103

2017 Aug. 30: Brave Beauties participants after a visit to Gender Dynamix offices in Cape Town. Back row: L-R Progress Seloate, Kim Monoto, Mellisa Mbambo, Roxy Dlamini, Miss Tee Menu. Front row: L-R Katiso Kgope, Ricki Kgositau (GDX Director), Kat Serame, Yaya Mavundla and Dimpho Tsotetsi. © Muholi /Inkanyiso


Dimpho Tsotetsi, Katlego Kat Serame, Progress Seloate, Roxy Msizi Dlamini, Katiso Kat Kgope and Yaya Mavundla
: nine in total, beautiful, confident – and loud, mind I say – super models, all participanting in Brave Beauties’ Cape Town Chapter. Whilst waiting for the Uber to Gardens Holiday Apartment where we will be staying, a visual party took place, from Malibongwe  video documenting anything and everything the ladies did, to Terra’s airport photo shoot, it surely was going to be a productive and fun week.

 

2017 Aug. 30 Kim Monoto @ Stevenson gallery _8019

Kim Monoto standing next to her life size portrait which is part of Brave Beauties (2017) series. © Terra Dick/ Inkanyiso

Soon we arrived at the Gardens Holiday Apartment, where Lerato Dumse of Inkanyiso efficiently had already checked us all in. The entire 3rd floor belonged to Brave Beauties and the Inkanyiso crew; later on I would learn that this was a rather great idea to have all of us on the same floor…

After settling in and unpacking, I attended a brief meeting with the crew members in Room 408, which was specifically reserved for us as a dedicated meeting space. Crew Members as follow:

  • MuholiBrave Beauties Director
  • Lerato DumseDu Love Media Director
  • Yaya Mavundla – Publicist and Brave Beauties Participant
  • Thembela ‘Terra’ Dick – Photographer

Malibongwe documented the first meeting. I must admit, I felt rather intimidated… things just became ‘real’, with the discussion unfolding across the table, tasks being allocated, itinerary planning and formal introductions on-camera.  All of this was a first for me, but I was more excited that nervous. I got to understand how Muholi works, and likes things to be handled, with the help of the other long-term crew members very familiar with Muholi’s way of working.

Our first day one ended with a trip to Mzoli’s Place in Gugulethu, a township on the outskirts of Cape Town. Terra and myself went with the Brave Beauties; Mozli’s is definitely not my scene, but the ladies had a blast. We closed off our first evening in Cape Town with a wonderful visit to Rowan Pybus home, who runs an ethical media company called Makhulu productions and, together with his wife Sydelle Willow Smith, is a founding partner in Sunshine Cinema, a mobile solar cinema that turns solar energy into social impact. What an honour to meet such an inspiring and humble man: we were invited into his home with open arms, served refreshments and engaged in empowering conversations accompanied by lot of laughter. Cape Town was definitely looking good.

Day 2

The day started very early, as Dimpo and I decided to prepare a lovely breakfast for everyone. Thereafter the whole team went the Roodebloem Studios in Woodstock to record the Life Stories Interviews. The Brave Beauties got themselves ‘dolled up’ for the occasion – what they do best. On this day we were joined by Mam’ Lindeka Qampi, a self-taught photographer specialized in the genre of Street Photography. Lindeka is a humble, strong black woman, with a very welcoming and calm approach. Rowan Pybus of Sunshine Cinema and Makhulu Productions was kind enough to join the crew and film the shoot, working closely with Inkanyiso’s own film producer and editor Ima Masitha, whom I was excited to meet. We got along very well from the start, and worked hard together making sure the production and logistics were on par. Although most of the time I found myself having to be a ‘mother’ or ‘minder’ to the Brave Beauties; I was overwhelmed at first, as the ladies are rather ‘different’: I am not too sure if it was their excitement, but to have them calm down was rather difficult, let alone take instructions or focus on the project… !

And as if that was not enough, we were rather rudely interrupted by Lindiwe Dhlamini, the founder of a fantastic initiative called Injabulo Anti-Bullying project, who decided to just budge in – no introduction – and exhibited a marked lack of respect for the crew, before demanding to start her bullying dialogue. But luckily Ima Masitha, Rowan and myself were able to keep the situation calm, be professional her and let her do ‘her thing’ … and the situation was defused.

Muholi and Lerato joined us later and the ball started rolling, beautiful images were captured, and the opening video successfully captured. Magic was created at the studio. The day was closed off with Rowan conducting a rather a series of very emotional, draining, raw individual interviews with the Brave Beauties.

From the outside one might think that all this work could be done in just a couple of hours, but on this day I learnt that perfection is hard work, and pays off when you see the end result: the ladies were flawlessly beautiful, the production crew was dedicated and truly professional; this is was serious work. History was made on this day.

What is Cape Town without Long Street? Later that night we got a treat from Muholi: dinner and a walk on Long street to complete the day – even though there were small glitches. I mean, how could there not be any when you are accompanying nine extraordinary and over-the-top dramatic transwomen. Little did they know there was a surprise birthday celebration back at the hotel for Katlego Kat Serame: the big 30. Very emotional and rather special, Muholi made sure she was celebrated on this day, and she couldn’t be happier. A productive day it turned out to be.

 

2017 Aug. 30 Princess Progress _8021

Princess Progress Seloate for Brave Beauties (2017) series. © Terra Dick/ Inkanyiso

 
Day 3

We started our day by visiting Stevenson Gallery. The gallery has an international exhibition programme with a particular focus on the region, representing a group of exhibiting gallery artists – including our very own Muholi. It was my very first time ever being at an art gallery. I was blown away by the beauty, the space, the pure white walls, the welcoming staff – when you look at them, you see art. This was a dream to me: as soon as you enter the gallery, you are greeted by a large book shelf filled with treasures, books by internationally celebrated artists and activists, and right at the front several of Muholi’s books are the centre of attention. Immediately I felt so proud and humbled, to be part of history in the making.

Once the introductions were out of the way, the Brave Beauties were given the task to express themselves on the wall, and write what they wished to share with the world – not only about transwomen, but to personalise and dig deep inside, conveying to the audience what it means to be a transwoman. To tell the world who they were. Unfortunately I was rather disappointed by the Brave Beauties, as in my view they did not go all out and respect the craft and rawness of the activity: to me, the writings on the wall were not up to scratch, in terms of being true and honest.  There were a lot of grammatical mistakes, and words spelt wrong. I suggested the ladies write in their own language if they wish to add originality and dignity to the craft, but as this was not considered, I had to remind myself it was not about me, but about the Brave Beauties. I can only  do so much, offer my assistance and advise; it is up to them to decide if wish to take it, or not. A couple of hours later we departed back to the hotel, to get ready to attend Odi Diva’s The Come Back event, where Muholi was the guest speaker.

Odidi “OdiDiva” Mfenyana, also known as “The only Diva with a Degree”: not only is Odidiva well educated, she is also an actor and an amazing performer. Her vaudeville-style cabaret is highly entertaining and gets everybody up on their feet, clapping their hands and singing along. For the first time I met a drag queen who actually sings for real…! I was blown away by Odidiva’s style and her strong beautiful voice. The event started slowly and calmly at first, with red candles lit as a remembrance ceremony. Thereafter it turned out to be a hell of a party, everyone was on their feet, dancing and celebrating.. The Brave Beauties got down for real, in their high heeled stilettos and short mini dresses: the dance floor was on fire. I had to call it a night early as I was exhausted. And so whilst the Inkanyiso crew went back to the hotel, the Brave Beauties went to the after-party at Club Zer021 in Cape Town’s Green Point.

Day 4

Muholi decided to spoil us a little and help us relax, and each one of us was given R1000 to go shopping. The Brave Beauties, Mam’ Lindeka,  and myself went to V&A Waterfront. Due to everyone wanting different things to buy, we decided to split and meet at the Food Court at 4pm, as we had planned a photoshoot by the beautiful view. I have to admit that on this day, I was struggling with exhaustion. I bought two souvenirs and walked around for a little while, just admiring this beautiful mall. Come 4pm, none of the Brave Beauties were at the meeting bay, and so yet another chasing of adults was required, again.

Eventually we all got together, and Mam’Lindeka and Mam’ Lizzie began with the photoshoot. By this time everyone was equally exhausted; we had a quick drink and went to the hotel to rest.
Day 5 / Last Day

The last day had finally come: the reason we were all here. It was unfortunate I was ‘man down’; I had caught the flu bug and I stayed in bed the entire day.

By18:00, we went to Stevenson Gallery. History will be made tonight: a solo exhibition by visual activist and photographer Muholi, her first in Cape Town gallery since 2012.
Brave Beauties, a photo-essay featuring transwomen, to be shown alongside Somnyama Ngonyama (‘Hail, the Dark Lioness’), her on-going body of work confronting the politics of race and pigment in the photographic archive through self-portraiture.

The opening was a huge success, from large images of the Brave Beauties up on the gallery walls, to the video room, and a range of random images pasted across the gallery rooms. Everything came together beautifully, the gallery was packed, people came out in large numbers to support and enjoy this endeavour. At one point I found myself looking at Muholi as she was delivering her speech and thinking to myself, “God has truly blessed Muholi, with not just a talent, but wisdom and a passion”… I couldn’t be more humbled by the opportunity to not only work with Inkanyiso but to also witness such beauty and perfection. I was overwhelmed. The Brave Beauties looked absolutely gorgeous, true models who carried themselves with such elegance and grace. The gallery was filled with great spirits, congratulations were in order all round. It all came together in the end.

Muholi is an icon, the person is a legacy, and I feel deeply honoured to be given the opportunity to contribute and work with the amazing Inkanyiso crew. I learnt a lot, and I evolved as an individual on this trip. Finally everything made sense.

 

About the author

Zama Shange was born in Durban, Inanda South Africa, 1987 July 17.  Her mother’s name was Ntombifuthi “Mafutha” Shange and father Gugu Cele, who both passed away when she was a baby. She was raised by her grandfather, David Shange.

Education

She attended S.M.J Primary school in Durban, Sydenham public school. She then completed her High School years in 2005 at Avonford Secondary School, which is in Phoenix. She went on to study at Varsity College, where she received her Diploma in Hospitality Management.

Career and professional activities

Zama Shange started her career path at the InterContinental Hotel O.R Tambo.
Where she worked as a Front Desk assistance until 2010. She then moved to Tracker in 2011, she started as a call centre agent. Upon giving excellent customer service skills, she was then promoted to Product Support Agent.

In 2012 she received a transfer upon request to Tracker office in Durban, where she also through hard work was again promoted to Dealer Sales Executive in 2015. She is currently based in Durban, working for Tracker. In 2016 she started freelancing for UniQ Magazine SA, an LGBTI online magazine.

She has since been promoted to Operations Manager for the magazine. Based on her disadvantaged childhood, Zama decided that since she can not go back and change her childhood, she will focus on making a difference in young girl’s lives, who grow up in disadvantaged backgrounds.
On educating, protecting and inspiring young girls to be the best they can be.
Zama founded Mafutha Foundation in 2017, an organization that focuses on youth of where she comes from. Choosing to contribute to the Community, Zama realized that there was more she could offer.  She than became an activist and Feminist, specifically in the LGBTI community which she belongs to. She is currently volunteering as a Logistics event co-ordinator for Inkanyiso.

Achievements

Zama Shange got to have part of her life story published on Uniq Magazine SA in June 2017 where she was the cover story. She shared her journey with the readers as a way to inspire, growth and being proud of ‘who you are’. In July 2017 Zama joined a movement of powerful, inspiring and motivating women called Esigodlweni seziNdlovukazi founded by Queen Indlovukazi Mapule, who is also her mentor.

Zama immediately became a leader of the youth’s project called The Inheritors.
On the 12th of August 2017, she was invited as a Programme Director for Young women’s Luncheon, hosted by FourW Foundation. In August 2017, she joined Inkanyiso.org team in Cape Town, where Brave Beauties project exhibited by the visual activist Zanele Muholi.

Zama Shange is currently working on growing Mafutha Foundation and breaking all barriers to ensure that no girl child within her reach is drops out of school because of issues young people face in schools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Activated queer spaces, Activists Act, African continent, Another Approach Is Possible, Appreciation, Art Activism, Art Is A Human Right, Article by Zama Shange, Articulation, Being conscientized, Being heard, being loved, being recognized, Body Politics, Caring citizens, Citizenship, Claiming mainstream spaces, Collectivism, Consent, Crea(c)tive senses, Creative Writing, Cultural activists, Follow up, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2017 Sept. 11: I cannot make you see a woman

I try to run away from these broad shoulders that make it difficult for me to put on these dresses that I so love to wear. They are not made for me. They are not constructed for this man’s body. I try to cover the bulge in between my thighs, but whenever I suppress it in my tight jeans, it only brings me pain. I wear chokers to try to express the woman in me, however, my Adam’s apple pushes it away, giving me a taste of death by making it hard for me to breathe and swallow.

I wake up and look at myself in the mirror. I am in disbelief at seeing this body naked, I go closer to the mirror looking deeply into this body. As I get closer, it eats away the rest of my body. As I get closer my body disappears, I can now only see my face. Looking deeply at the reflection of my face, I experience a bit of relief as I see hints of femininity. I recognise the little thorns that stab my fingertips as they get closer to my chin. I apprehensively wash my chin, I then take the razor, and allow the small blades to run over these hair particles like the brutal bulldozers that ran over the District Six houses in the Cape, wiping away their existence.

Looking down, I search for my foundation, trying to make myself look lighter, for light skin is associated with beauty. Light skin is associated with femininity. From a young age, they lied to me and taught me to hate myself. They taught me blackness is “either/or, not both”. Blackness is being African. Blackness is being straight. Blackness is possessing conservative masculine ideals. Blackness does not consist of queerness.  Blackness is an implicit reminder that I cannot be Trans. If I am Trans, then I cannot be African, black or Xhosa. It is a reminder that I cannot be a woman for I am in this black man’s body. I cannot make you see the woman in me. I cannot make you see a woman because I live in a man’s body. I live in a black man’s body.

I have tried numerous times to kill this body; however, it has mastered the needs of my soul. This body has captured and imprisoned my feminine spirit. Twenty-seven years of imprisonment fighting for freedom does not begin to capture the twenty years of being imprisoned not only by society but by your own body. The kind of emancipation I long for is not only to be free from society but to be free from this foreign oppressive body. If I take its life away, it threatens to take away the beauty that is within me. I cannot allow it to.

I have to allow this body to live, for my spirit lives in it. However, I must quickly find a way to rescue myself from this body. I have tried to unify this body with my beautiful soul, however, it is silently suffocating me. I need to rescue myself from myself. I do not know how. Or maybe I should rather put this beautiful spirit to sleep, for she is already dying because of this oppressive body and society she lives in.

This body confuses me. This man’s body brings me agony instead of offering me the privilege that society and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said it would. It constantly reminds me that I cannot be a woman. The most I can be, is a gay man, for society tells me so. When this body goes into society it is misgendered. This body is forced to go into rooms that are historically constructed for men. It is institutionally oppressed and forced to decide if it is a man or a woman when in need of the bathroom. When it goes into women’s bathroom, even though it is a woman, it experiences transphobia and judgement. Left with no choice but to conform, it listens to its biological features and misgenders itself as it is forced to enter the male lavatory, confronted by urinals for the sake of maintaining peace in society. This body lives in an oppressive residence that refuses to acknowledge that it is not a gentleman, but rather a gentlewoman. Suggesting gender neutral names keep all happy, Even that they do not understand.

I set myself on fire to keep society warm.
I have always treated society like they are the victims, especially when it comes to them having to accept my identity. I try to make everything ‘normal’ for them.

I set myself on fire to keep them warm. I have always had to sacrifice the person I am for the sake of my family. Yes, I kept her in.

I set myself on fire to keep you warm.  I continually suppressed her for the sake of maintaining the status quo. You must realise that as much as I am black, I am Xhosa and I am also Trans. I cannot separate the three, and I cannot make the other disappear for another to exist and be recognised by society. They are interdependent. They come as one. Intersectional.

I cannot set myself on fire anymore because I have nothing to burn.
I cannot make you see a woman because I live in a black man’s body.

I know I am a woman, even though I cannot make you see one.

 

NB: First published in Queerstion and republished here with the permission from the original source.

Written by: Phumelele Nkomozake 

Edited by: Chili Kier, Lucky Brian Dlamini and Thabo Gaobuse

To view related photos
https://www.queerstion.org/2017/06/30/i-cannot-make-you-see-a-woman/

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2017 Aug. 31: My experience in Poetry form

Action!
White paint over white painted walls
removing the history of previous night
falls cause blackness was about to be reborn.
Squares and rectangles
Measures and tapes
Nails and hammers
Steps and ladders
Pins and niddles the anxiety stiffens.
Clicks and claps
Giggles and laughs
Ohh’s and aah’s
Curtsey’s and bows
Curiosity is aroused.
Questions verses answers
Pictures verses humans
Hugs verses kisses
Ballroom dancing on Stevenson’s floor.
Eyes panning right, left, left and right
Reading and writing real human rights
Somnyama Ngonyama
Blackness backbone back against a white wall
backing the colour in unicorns to stay rainbow in a world
that strives to put their lights out.
Cut!

© Lungile Maquba

2017

_______________________

About the author 
 
 
I was born in 1989, October 20. It was early, I was born 4 months before I was due so I spent a lot of my infant life in an incubator. Apparently I was extremely tiny even after I got out of hospital. My family was told I wouldn’t have long to live because I was too fragile, I remember this because of the comments people would make when they saw me as a teenager. I am the eldest amd first born of 6 children mothered by Nana Maquba. It was a division of 3 boys, 3 girls but 1 of my brothers passed away in April.
My life growing up was alternating between home and hospitals to an extent where I called hospital my second home and started to like hospital more than home. There was no exchange of information in terms of what was wrong with me or if I would get better. There was a small panic after what seemed like the biggest operation that has ever been done,but I asked no questions. I just ruled it out as my last because I was done with going under the knife for no solution.  
My name is Lungile Peaceworth Maquba, I grew up in Clemont KK hostel with my grandmother. I attended pretty school and primary school in Reservoir hills Durwest primary school. I finished grade 7 in 2001 and enrolled at Durban girls secondary school for my high-school. I studied there between 2002 and 2006. I was an avarage student and loved sports. I played high jump and was in the main swimming team. Amongst other things, I realised I love doing sports that were not exposed to us at home like ice seating, I did some life guard training. I use to write and recite poetry at DUT when they had an open stage for students and non students. I participated in performing arts and modeling at an agency at the Bat center. I sang whenever I got a chance. 
After high school I did a short course in beauty therapy which I later didn’t enjoy. I then studied Industrial psychology at Unisa but I had to drop out after my first year due to my parents not affording to fund my schooling. 
I decided to work, my first job was as a bar tender, then I moved to Johannesburg, worked a market research company conducting surveys. I then got employed by multichoice as an inbound call center agent. This was between 2009 and 2011. In 2012 I worked as a financial advisor for Liberty, I worked for 2 years and wanted further experience in the finance industry so I could study something specific based on what I know so I applied at different banks and got an opportunity at Capitec working at their head office as client care. I gathered all the information I needed and applied to study wealth management at Milpark collage. 
With all the information I had gathered, I knew that I wanted to teach about finance because I noticed that there’s a big gap between having money and understanding it. 
On the other hand I love adventure and traveling. I have friends around me who are art themselves and I would always be mistaken for an artist because I’m rooted in such. Most people assumed I was a photographer to a point where I called myself 1 without ever touching a camera. 
After some thinking and planning my near future, I accepted that I wasn’t happy at my job, I paid all my debt and bought myself a camera, Nikon D3100.  I still remember my reaction to taking it out of the box, I felt the most overwhelming joy, I uttered the words ‘i could die now and feel like I’ve lived’ simply because I’ve felt happiness, passion and contentment all at once. 
I resigned and left Capitec on the 31st of April 2016, I’ve been learning and living as a freelance photographer since. 
I was approached by instaholla to fake over their page for a weekend and did a stop sign campaign with just a model and different stop signs, I later did a androgenous shoot for them as well. I then moved to Durban, I approached quite a number of people asking to add them to my none existing profile, in-between that, I got approached to take photos at traditional weddings with the assistance of my friend Hlobisile who taught me all I know to this point. I opened my own company “Unmadebrand”.  Initially it was a lifestyle brand but I gave it a name that can be versatile so for my photography part of things I use it as UB4TOS. It’s a working progress.  So far I’ve worked as a photographer at the Durban essence festival,big brother,behind the scenes for My Attractive life (Ontlametse Phalatse story), making moves as a DOP assistant. Those are just the few I can attach recognisable names to. At the moment I’m a personal photographer for actress Chiedza Mhende where I follow her events and BTS while being her generations character.  
My aspirations include being an artist in photography, being world renowned and recognised for my individuality and expression. I would love to express the culture of woman posed by society and hope to get to a core before patriarchy. I would love to express the lives of intersexual and infertile woman in a world that demands fertility. I love to capture dance and movement. 
I believe there is a staged life and a life that’s experienced by mirrors. I love to capture personal freedom. 
At this very moment, I’m a toddler finding her feet into this big world, I love the size because it can accommodate all of us.
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2017 Aug. 21: Brave Beauty from Umlazi to Amsterdam

by Yaya Mavundla conversing with Le Sishi

Travelling is lot of work.
It involves a lot of preparations. There is a lot of stress and excitement at the same time.
Travelling abroad is even worse. Especially if you travelling for the first time.
You need to get yourself a passport, apply for a visa that you might not be granted at times.
There have been a number of people who were declined visas on the eleventh hour and Leticia (also known as Le)  was hoping that doesn’t happen to her. Her dreams would have been shattered.
It would have proven a lot of people right who were very negative.

She says she was so excited to having received an invite to go to Amsterdam. Especially because travelling abroad is very expensive. It something that just doesn’t happen over night. You need to have worked very hard for it.
She is continuously grateful to Muholi for the opportunity. To get an all expenses paid is everybody’s dream.

The VISA process was  very strestressful for the beauty queen. A lot of people were very negative.  She was told her visa will be declined.
People even made reference with Babes Wodumo whose visa to BET awards was unsuccessful date to late submission. She was asked what is it so special about her that she will be approved.
Luckily for Le she applied on time and had all the documents needed. That made her application easy her visa was granted. She cried tears of joy knowing she is about to represent transgender community at Amsterdam Pride.

She further mentions that she didn’t know that there was a visa fees. Thanks to Muholi who came to her rescure and paid for her visa application.
“To my shock when I got at the Amsterdam embassy I was asked to produce a proof of payment of R537.00 which I didn’t know about. I was so stressed as they were closing in an hours time, and had no money with me. My frustration was that you don’t just rock up at the embassy, you need to have an appointment. Not paying that day would have ruin my chances. I was so broke.
Thanks to Muholi for sending me the money and I was able to pay on the day” – Leh Sishi.

The beauty queen who recently graced the cover of Unique Magazine with a caption “from Umlazi to the world” on her story. It soon became a reality with her Amsterdam trip. To date she is super proud. This is her greatest memory.

Few days before her departure to Johannesburg, her work laptop was stolen. This happens after her Amsterdam ticket was confirmed. She could imagine that incident stopping her from travelling. That obviously put a lot of pressure and stress on her.
She had volume of work to submit and this meant she will be delayed.
Luckily this didn’t affect her travelling schedule. Everything got sorted when she received another laptop to complete her work and she submitted everything before her departure.

“Muholi booked me a flight to Joburg where I was going to connect a flight to Amsterdam set to leave on Sunday evening with Muholi and Lerato Dumse. I arrived in Johannesburg and I was so excited that I will be travelling abroad for the first time” says Le.

She was really looking forward to travelling abroad. Experience the Dutch language and accent and all. The biggest Pride event, meet other transgender people and just get out of my comfort zone. Learn from other transgender people and experience a different culture.

This was a dream come true to experience all these things. She was so excited when she arrived in Johannesburg on Saturday, 29th July 2017.  Arriving at O.R Tambo International airport boarding to an Amsterdam flight was a stamp that this is real. She couldn’t wait to wake up in a different country.
Travelling with Muholi and Lerato Dumse was even more exciting. They made it an enjoyable experience.

“When we got to Amsterdam I really enjoyed travelling with the train. Meeting with Dominic who introduced me to other transgender people was exciting.  I was inspired a lot. Travelling with Muholi opened my eyes. I was so happy to see Muholi’s posters all over Amsterdam. I realised how great is Muholi’s work. People are so loving and welcoming in Amsterdam”, says Le.

She mentions that her highlight was meeting Noah who plays in a movie called Stonewall.  Noah stayed at the same hotel where we were. She goes on to say she took a lot of pictures while in Amsterdam. Went to an exhibition opening of Zanele Muholi where her image from Brave Beauties is featured. Attending her first exhibition abroad by Muholi was also a great experience.

She goes on to say that her wearing imvunulo (Zulu traditional dress) made her stand out. People loved it and it really boosted her confidence.

 

2017 Aug. 5 Ms Le Sishi for Amsterdam Pride_4779

Le Sishi outside the Lloyd Hotel ready for Amsterdam Pride.  © Zanele Muholi (05/08/2017)

“Amsterdam Pride was so big, the love she received there was amazing.  There was a transgender woman who was leading the boat. I thought to myself – No!
I went on stage and took over. I received so much love and support” she says with enthusiasm.

“My Amsterdam visit opened my eyes. I realised I need to work. I need to be proud. There is nothing as sexy as a transgender woman who works” she adds.

Even though on her return to South Africa she says she was very hurt by security at Amsterdam airport who searched her and had to remove her padding on the bra to see what was in there. She says this was really the most uncomfortable experience and very unpleasant.

Since her return from abroad she says she feels like a brand new person. She goes on to extend her gratitude to Muholi for being so kind and giving her this opportunity.

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2017 July 23:  UniQ interview with Le Sishi

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2017 Aug. 8: I live here

 

I know this place
I live here

Where dresses wear deeper voices than suits
Where tattoos and piercings are shaded in rainbow colors
Where 7 closets have other shades inside of them
Then come out as bubbles and feathers at least once a year.

Where enemies pry on our pride
Pride we take to the streets
To meet family and friends
Where there are no gatekeepers preaching oppresive religious scripts.
Where we break inside because we can’t come out to taste the sun

That will reflect a spectrum
The infamous colors
7
CHAKRAS
LGBTIQA
The androgeny of the spectrum of life

That’s when the night crawlers are all over
Hunting for our virginity
Haunting our consciousness to argue with self
Make believe that your difference is unacceptable to society.
Suddenly causing conflicts
Making war and not love
In the name of religion
Who formed these rules?
Who made me
And the feelings I have?

Well I live here
I love here

Where lipstick fluid
Grabs her hair with polished nails
Where meeting the girlfriend is accompanied by cutting nails
And she is looking handsome
Where fingercots and dental dems are hard to find
Where do we get them?
To protect ourselves too, you know

Where he cooks and gives it all to him
Biceps grip the linen
He’s seconds from is second coming

He was seconds from meeting his creator
With his face against the surface
When he thought he was a she

Where s/he or they and are likely to be ‘curatively raped’
paralyzed and murdered.
Where color covers pride and loss
In a form of foam on floats
Where the struggle differs for a person of the same queer gender but different skin color.

That is only the tip of this iceberg I call home

© Lebohang Mashifane
     2017

 

 

 

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2014 Aug. 9:  My name is Woman

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2016 VACEP, Androgyny, Anger, Another Approach Is Possible, Art Activism, Poem by Lebo Mashifane, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2017 July 30: Painful send off for transgender activist Iko Mash

Text by Yaya Mavundla
Photos by Zanele Muholi

2017 July 29 Iko Mash funeral _ coffin_4431

Celebrity friends paying their last respect to Iko…

The funeral service of Iko Mash was very painful. Iko who passed away on the 21st of July 2017 was buried on Saturday the 29th of July 2017.

Her funeral service was held at Thaba-Jabula Secondly School in Soweto.
The service was scheduled to start at 8-11am and finish at 11am but due to people arriving late at the venue it went for extra 30 minutes.
The programme did not go as planned. There were a lot of people who ended up speaking in the podium who were not on the programme.

A lot of things that Iko Mash believed in was taken away from her. Most speakers did not respect who Iko was. Her grandfather who spoke on behalf of the family  (who was not in the programme) said he did not know who Iko Mash was.

2017 July 29 Iko s family _4448

Family members at the funeral service

He constantly referred to Iko with the name of his choice. The name they have chosen for Iko at birth. Not the name she have chosen for herself and known as by many. He went on to challenge the media reports that Iko Mash was not accepted by family because of her gender. “Iko Mash was never abused by the family. He (as disrespectfully referred by him) might have been mistreated by a member of the family…maybe his uncle but was not abused” he contradicted himself.

Transphobia became a norm as two more speakers that took to the podium constantly refered to the late transgender activist as a he.
Another speaker who is a family’s neighbour, Mpho Molubi went on to proudly refer to Iko as Billy. Even though she knew that Iko was against it. She chose to turn a blind eye and disrespect Iko at her funeral service.

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Programme director Criselda Dudumashe handled the service very well and it was very clear that she knew who Iko was. “Iko lived for people” said Criselda.She revived the mood. Threw a lot of tasteful jokes. She asked one speaker to say whatever he wanted to say to Iko as this was his last chance to say it. Knowing that Iko’s word was always final. She even referred to Manaka as a chief mourner. The mood in the venue changed for the better. Sadly people were just not willing to sing.

Former Metro FM publicist Happy Ngidi spoke so fondly of Iko. How Iko was dedicated and professional in everything she did. “Everytime I needed a face beat I would call Iko. She was very reliable & professional” said Happy.
She went on to say that Iko was forever on time. Regardless of what was the call time. She said even if the call time was as early as 4am Iko will be there without fail.

Judith Sephuma paid tribute to Iko with an amazing and moving performance.
Iko was known as a very welcoming individual. She took people as they are and made them better people. She inspired and mentored a lot of young girls who took part at the Sun Babe competition.
“Chief mourner” Manaka Ranaka and Siphokazi January supported every positive comments made about their friend Iko Mash.  They described Iko as someone who was very opinionated and demanded attention and to be accepted. “She once went to an audition and a casting director asked Iko if she knew that the character was of a female. She responded to the casting director and said, I can’t believe there are still people who are not ready for change, and you are one of them”. Said Siphokazi.

The service was then wrapped up by Pastor Nomazwe Ntlokwana and we drover off to the cemeteries. The traffic was very bad that some people parked their cars very far and walked to the cemeteries.
Iko Mash was buried at Westpark Cemetery alongside other well known South African citizens. She is the first transgender woman to be buried at Westpark cemeteries.

I would like to extend many thanks to Virginia Magwaza who made it a point to bring a trans flag that was placed on top of Iko’s coffin at her funeral service.
I wish the obituary was done by people who really knew and loved her. What we read on her obituary did not represent who Iko was. It was NOT Iko Mash at all.
May her soul Rest In Peace, Pride and that’s how God wishes it to be.

2017 July 29 Lebo Keswa @ Iko Mash funeral_4468

Lebo Keswa mourning a friend, Iko Mash…

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2017 July 27: Dignified memorial service for Iko Mash

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