by Sharon “Sicka” Mthunzi
It all started with a ‘selfie’ captured using my cell phone. I remember I used to look in the mirror with a phone on my left hand, and take pictures of myself.
Before the birth of Sicka Star-ban, the hip-hop artist everyone loves. I was just an ordinary teenager who loved the “spotlight”, but didn’t know were and how to find it. Going to LGBTI pageants gave me an idea of how to get it. Don’t blame me for wanting my spotlight; I’m from a very artistic family. I convinced my cousin, Nontuthuzela Mduba, to enter Mr Lesbian 2013 with me and that’s how it all started. I used to look at myself in the mirror and picture myself on stage, people cheering and obviously cameras taking snap shots of my beautiful/handsome self.
We entered the pageant, Ntuthu walked away with the first prince title and me as Mr Personality, which I deserved after all the practice in front of the bath room mirror. After that, I convinced myself that I would live to be on stage for the rest of my life. That was the birth of Sicka Star-ban, who was born two months after the pageant. Sicka took the spotlight I tried to have all these years. She flowed on stage and the crowed loved each and every performance she did. I envy her. With her, it was like I was climbing on a sinking ship, so I decided to be behind the camera and documented Sicka since she deserved my spotlight.
Zanele Muholi, my mentor and inspiration gave me the opportunity of being a photographer while we were in Oslo, Norway. Well, as we all know, Sicka took my spotlight but I couldn’t argue, since she gives it her all during performances. I shadowed Muholi at her exhibition at Arkershus Art Center, I thought to myself; I will make my very own spotlight where there will be no Sicka taking over it. Sicka will only be in front of my camera.
Carrying my 1100D Canon camera, given to me by my mentor, I remained in the shadows trying to figure out how I will create my own space and have my spotlight. That was until I met a group of ambitious young black lesbians during the Yithi Laba Youth conference. I was inspired very much and I am thankful for being part of a group filled with positive people sharing their skills and knowledge. Through collaborations I was going to fulfil my goal. On the 25th of June 2015 Thembela Dick also known as Terra a film maker/photographer, asked me to join her. She was going to shoot Mamela Nyamza a choreographer from Cape Town at the dance studio next to Market Photo Workshop where I will be schooling (I’m so excited for my first day).
We got there and couldn’t find Mamela until we found out she was at the dance factory. Terra managed to take a few clips of their rehearsals and after, we went out for drinks. That same evening Terra and her partner Thando had to leave for Durban, to shoot Durban pride. Mamela needed more clips, so Terra recommended me to shoot the next day, and on that Saturday, to go to Joburg Theatre and shoot the Youth unplugged event. On the Friday of June 26th, I got ready and was excited that finally, I’m getting to my spotlight goal.
When I got to the dance factory they were preparing, so I searched for the perfect spot to document the performances as a professional photographer would. Their audience came in and I was ready to work. I’m not a fan of ballet dancing but watching them inspired me to try dancing one day. What can I say; I want to wear many hats. At the end of the performance I mingled a bit with a few important people, or those who looked important, judging from how they spoke and carried themselves.
Later that evening I contacted Tshepo, the guy Terra referred me to, to shoot at Joburg Theatre, only to find out that the event was on Sunday the 28th. I was off to Joburg Theatre on Sunday and to my surprise, Tshepo is a hip-hop artist just like Sicka. I thought to myself, Sicka will never out shine me on my spotlight zone, because she has her own spotlight, which she took from me. I arrived at 13:00 and the event started at 15:00. Moving around taking pictures and clips of different performances gave me my spotlight. Finally I was asked whom do I work for? But every time I tried to answer, Sicka would just take over my conversations with my new networks and again she got a gig at Soweto festival, for upcoming artists on the 14-16 of August 2015. I have learned to realize that even though I want my spotlight, Sicka will always be the to shine on it. This is only the beginning of my journey.
I am Nonkululeko Sharon Mthunzi and Sicka is a part of me.
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