2016 April 27: Re/Uniting with Faces and Phases participants on Freedom Day

by Fiona-Donna Young

I have known about Faces and Phases since I was 16 years old and started reading Inkanyiso when I was 17 years old after countless google search attempts trying to see how best I would stay in the loop with trending LGBTI activities. This search happened during a time of self-discovery and coming to terms with my sexuality. Since this vulnerable age till date, Zanele Muholi has been a womyn I look up to, who has kept me intrigued and yearning to push my artistic boundaries as both a playwright and a director.


2016 April 27 F&P participants 1 _ Pmb


2016 April 27 Faces and Phases participants001_9023

Faces and Phases participants: Top row (L-R): Londeka Xulu, Ntsiki Dlamini, Phila Mbanjwa and Shirley Ndaba. Bottom row (L-R): Muholi, Sunday Mdlankomo and Thobe Mpulo


On Freedom Day in 2016 I was seated amongst scribers of history, who had participated in this very project titled ‘Faces and Phases’, most of them were from Pietermaritzburg.
It’s one thing to see beautifully depicted photographs in a book, but trust me it’s a moving experience to interact one on one with the very people who have been featured in Faces and Phases. Posing questions and gaining closer insight I observed what was a reunion for these photo-historians, it was in 2012 that this project was piloted in Pietermaritzburg known as PMB, and finally they were reuniting not only as participants but also with their older selves stated Thobe.

3026 April 27 Faces Participants joy_9000

Today looking at my photograph I realised I actually survived that traumatic experience and man there are so many dreams that I still need to achieve, that’s what looking at my photograph reminded me of,” added Phila Mbanjwa. When both these words were uttered by Phila and Thobe I caught myself humming in approval and confirming with a ‘Yes!’.
In that ah-haah! Experience. As an observer of this historical moment, I realised that Faces and Phases not only offered a healing experience for the participants but as the observer you also feel inspired looking at close to three hundred Lesbians and Transgender individuals who are beautiful, resilient, charming and evolving but most importantly they are black and are like me.

2016 April 27 Faces participants main_9724

“Uma sekulotshwa amagama, elami lizobe likhona”
stated Londeka, who mentioned that it feels so good to have made a positive contribution within the LGBTI community. “I never really knew it would feel this good to page through this book and view myself with such pride,” Sunday Mdlankomo emphasized. Before adding, “I heard from Zanele that my photograph had international recognition and it sparked some dialogue.”

In the 10 years since Faces and Phases was born, I think it will further gain recognition in the present through the healing it has offered its participants  but most importantly Faces and Phases  will invest towards future recognition in offering a testimony of excellence for upcoming Black, Beautiful Lesbians and Transgenders. Worthy are those who received such a refreshing experience because I have been awakened to head back to my writing pad and to scribe my own contribution of history.


Related links

2016 April 2: Faces and Phases follow-ups

2015 Sept. 8: Faces and Phases presented at Hasselblad Foundation

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

2015 March 26: Four generations of black lesbians at the Faces and Phases book launch


2015 March 25: Photos from Faces and Phases book launch @ AGI – UCT


2015 March 20: Faces and Phases book launch at UCT African Gender Institute


2015 Mar.9: “African Photography & “Faces and Phases” seminar


2014 Dec. 12: Muholi presents Faces and Phases (2006 -14) at home


2014 Dec. 13: Faces and Phases invokes memories


2014 Dec. 9: Exclusive Book Launch of Faces and Phases in Amsterdam


2014 Dec. 7: The joys and pains of organising Faces and Phases (2006-14) book launch


2014 Nov. 25: Faces and phases-embodying the freedom of being


2014 Nov. 26: Faces and Phases mini book launch @ RFSL, Stockholm


2014 Nov. 20: Book Review: Faces and Phases (2006 – 2014)


2014 Nov. 20: New York Faces and Phases (2006 – 2014) book launch


2014 Nov. 7: Faces and Phases (2006 – 2014) book launch in Johannesburg


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


2014 Oct. 31: Faces and Phases (2006 – 2014) book launch

2014 June 26: Successful Faces and Phases O.P.E.N in Singapore


2015 June 28: Beauties from Faces celebrating their Phases




2014 Sept. 26: Visual diary from Ulm, Germany




This entry was posted in 250 portraits, Activists Act, Appreciation, Archive, Archived memories, Archiving Queer Her/Histories in SA, Art Edutainment, Articulation, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s