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.

Previous article

2017 July 23:  UniQ interview with Le Sishi

This entry was posted in Activists Act, Another Approach Is Possible, Appreciation, Art Activism, Article, Article on Le Sishi, As I AM, Beautiful, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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