by Collen Mfazwe
The month of August has to be a very challenging yet exciting time in my life. I lost my grandmother on the 17th Aug. 2013 and 5 days later I was given my final results for my foundation course in photography at Market Photo Workshop, Newton, Johannesburg.
I remember after the heart breaking news about my grandmother’s death, they had called me at home to wish me luck. It was really hard to be optimistic but I pushed myself to produce better display of my work and I produced best because surprisingly I manage to come second best in the course, this however was happily sad moment for me.
As I reflect, towards the end of my course things were not very well. I remember my granny was not ok and we all thought it’s not a big deal because she went to the doctor twice or thrice and the doctors didn’t say what exactly was the problem with her, but she was drinking all those pills that the Dr. gave her.
Somehow I had faith that they would make her better, though I have a clear vision of her sick(ness). I don’t know if God was testing my strength and faith. I was lost in my own world not knowing what to do and at that moment I was alone in the flat. I recalled vividly chatting to my sister like we always do on Saturday morning. I wanted to check if she’s ok but before she even responded I saw her Whatsapp status saying “she was a great granny RIP grandmother.”
The shock hit me and I asked her quickly if our granny was gone. She said yes and I didn’t believe her as tear drops fell consecutively on my face, at that point I remember I had to go to school but I lost focus for a moment, there confused and alone.
However that did not discourage me, I went to school anyways though I was not thinking straight but thank God I didn’t do anything stupid. Sunday morning I went home anticipating that all I heard was a lie but when I got there everyone was there.
Sadly my granny was not and I tried hardly to convince myself that maybe she went to the mall to collect her pension grant (money) but as time went by my eyes were full of tears realizing that she’s gone not for temporary but for good. I realized that her time has arrived. I never thought I’d survive the week that followed.
Market Photo Workshop (MPW) became a second home to me because I spent every day of my two months studying there. I made a promise to myself that I did not want to let myself down and the people around me. Most of all I did not want to let the person paying for my fees down not because I owed her, as she always says that I don’t owe her anything the only thing she wants to see is relevance. I also wanted to prove that I am capable and that I can. Things were not easy, I promise, but I did my best. I proved that I can be the best as well.
We all know that photography is not all about pressing shutter button, there’s more to it than that and it is hard but I managed. I mean when you want something you fight for it, you make sure you get it no matter how hard the situation can be. You really work harder to get it. So I did exactly that.
When I left home and went to stay in Parktown because of school, my family at home they didn’t take me seriously. That didn’t stop me from working very hard and my sisters were always there for me, they gave me support even though they didn’t understand what was really going on. Although they called and checked if I was doing ok. We even chatted on whatsapp and I really appreciated that.
I’m not from a very wealthy family but the little things that my sister is doing for me and my siblings means a lot. I’m not talking only financially but the love and care that she is giving me is so extreme.
Currently I’m staying with an amazing crew in a lesbian shelter where I also get strong support from the people I stay with. We are not of the same age group but that doesn’t mean a thing to us because we all respect each other.
My sexuality doesn’t distract me due to things that I need to achieve. I’m so well aware that being a lesbian is not a career and it won’t put bread on the table. When you are a grown up like me, obviously your siblings are also expecting something from you. I like being a photographer but most of all I love taking photographs.
Now I’m just pondering on the fact that it is the end of women’s month in South Africa. I have lost both my mother and my grandmother who were two great women in my life. I haven’t lost hope thanks to Nomthandazo Mfazwe my sister and Zanele Muholi for they are the reason that Women’s month gradually makes sense to me.
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