by Thembela Dick
On Monday 24th December I boarded a flight from Durban to Johannesburg, to document Lebo “Leptie” Phume’s wedding. Phume is a Faces and Phases participant, a life time project that Prof/Sir Muholi is producing using photography. I arrived in Johannesburg at 18:30 and called a Taxify to go home and get ready for the shoot the next day in Tembisa where Babalwa Tyabashe, Leptie’s fiancé lives. I arrived at home and took a bath to relax before going to dinner in Braamfontein, which was unusually empty without the traffic of students and young professional. I stayed just an hour before going home to sleep.
The next day December 25 was Christmas Day, I woke up around 6am for a morning jog before taking a shower to get ready for the big day. Before leaving the house I captured self-portraits for my project Umzimba to work along my time. When I was done with my personal I called Taxify to take me to Tembisa, the cost was extremely ridiculous because it was a 30 minute drive that cost R995.
I arrived at Babalwa’s home where the wedding was happening. She was getting ready for her wedding, Leptie the fiancée was not there yet. I captured what was happening including people cooking, some walking around dressed beautifully, the decoration, people arriving and the bride getting ready, bridesmaids’ mother and the family. It was amazing seeing Babalwa’s family so happy that their daughter is getting married.
Everything was looking good, Leptie was a bit late because the event was supposed to start at 14:00pm but it started after 15:00pm which was a bit stressful for me because I was going back to Durban. Leptie arrived and things started moving and I was able to take beautiful photos of both the wives including group photos. What was amazing for me was to see the wedding process being led by women only, who facilitated negotiations between the two families. The talks of giving away their daughters making them one person and being responsible for bringing the two families together.
After the negotiations, they asked Leptie who was with her sister wearing red African tradition to come in and introduce herself fully as they know a bit about her. Representing Babalwa’s mother, one of the women talked to Leptie about the good person she is to their daughter and they know how much she loves Babalwa. On their faces they were happy and excited that their daughter is getting married to a person they trust with their child. Leptie’s family was very happy to welcome Babalwa in their family, they described her as a beautiful lady that loves people and respect them as well.
Some families don’t allow same gender marriage in their families, seeing people from our communities learning and unlearning and our families supporting is important. Elders were there to support the younger generation making Herstory for the upcoming youth. Everyone looked happy to be at the wedding. There were lots of beautiful lesbian couples who were dressed very well with their partners looking gorgeous. Negotiating as two families that are being brought together by their granddaughters, joining their families. having a good conversation about their granddaughters.
I had a chance to shoot everyone before I left. Posing with their stunning outfits different colors and different hairstyles referencing Lindiwe Dhlaming on Umqele Wam/My Crown Project. I captured moments of Leptie and Babalwa kissing each other looking each other’s eyes looking amazingly beautiful.