by ‘Mamohlakola Letuka
In life there are many opportunities, some of which are disguised as challenges. It was an ordinary Sunday evening when I received a Facebook message from Lineo, Ba re ene re coordinator. Lineo being the person I look up to, I was thrilled, but nothing prepared me for the news carried in the DM. I danced; literally did a celebratory dance when I learned I was invited to a workshop, the next DAY with Zanele Muholi. I have been to ba re workshops and never have I felt like I wasted my time by attending, so a week learning photography for a curious being like me was an early birthday present.
By Monday morning I was ready for the week ahead. I knew it was going to be important and I was going to learn as much as I could. Little did I know or even understand how pregnant the week was to be. I stuttered during introductions and to say I was anything short of intimidated when I learned the caliber of people in the room would be a lie. During the introductions there was fluency and purpose of the workshop and I felt I shouldn’t be in the room, this wasn’t my space. Don’t get me wrong, I was determined to learn, interact and make friends, with the hope that I would contribute something, however as flexible as the day was, it was also awkward for me. This opportunity came at a time when I was struggling with self-love and feeling safe in a space filled with women. I felt out of place but it all got better with time. The day moved incredibly slow. It finally ended with an assignment to shoot. Of all the six people who had attended the workshop, only one did the shoot. Maybe its because she had a camera or she was the only one who understood the assignment.
Day two passed incredibly fast. I was finally getting the hang of the workshop, and having Prof Sir Muholi in the midst was amazing. The first thing I fell in love with was the hairstyle. Muholi wore their hair with so much pride and boldness. I have never met any one as bold and artistic, they played with their hair. Being a hair fanatic I instantly fell in love with their passion and ambition, this pulled me toward them. I was wowed! We were then assigned partners from Inkanyiso team for Wednesday. The whole day I had been struggling with my concept, and Lerato Dumse was able to help put things into perspective. She made suggestions but of course I still had the last word on the concept. The next day, which was Wednesday we set out to meet an individual who experienced gender based violence. Upon our arrival we brainstormed on catchy phrases for a topic and we settled for “are men drowning in masculinity?”
The interview went well. We left setting off to shoot around town. Lerato helped with the basics of portrait shots. We walked from She-hive to Mohokare guest house where we were to meet the team. When we arrived we shared on the events of the day and I was inspired. Thursday came and we hiked to the mountain (ratjomose), there we exercised.
I believe Thursday was the best day of the week. Yes we worked harder than any day, but we also looked forward to the book launch. Most of the day I used point and shoot instead of a DSLR. I wasn’t happy with most of my pictures but reality is, we had limited time. Matlali would let us use her camera as often as we needed it and I took pictures, that was pretty amazing also. With the chaos and shoots happening time passed and soon we prepared for café What? The experience was magnificent, the screened Art21 documentary was moving.
The screening was affirming for me, I felt that the little I have done in my community really was big. We all went our separate ways from Café What? to rest for the big day. Friday! We had to present our pictures. I didn’t understand the concept of presentations until I was presenting. As luck would have it I went first, and I was disappointed in the pictures I selected for the presentations. Well it didn’t go well; I had selected pictures which I had shot with point and shoot. Prof. Sir. Muholi gave their critic, which was frank and honest. I was grateful for the feedback and determined to work harder.
Overall, the week was amazing and eventful. I have learnt more than I could process in a week. I am still processing the whole week to date. I am determined to study hard, even outside of the group if I must. After the sessions, I feel loved and part of something bigger. I have managed to create a family, I have sisters all over, I have friends and I can proudly say, I spent five days amongst stars! Either I am the sky, the moon or a star myself.