2016 Oct. 11: When you fail I fail too…

You are a blessing to me since the day I conceived
Since the day I open my two legs to catch you
So you might not fall down or get cold
You Stretch my belly to make yourself a ground to play on
Kicked me to remind me…
When time comes I will stand on my own

Today you say mom I reap what I sow
And it was not easy…
True that honey,
Good and beautiful things are not easy to get

I watch you off to school today
I called you every second of every Minute…
You said, ‘mom my feet are cold…’
I know what you mean
Its been a while since I had that

While you out there am here preparing myself for two things
How we are going to celebrate?
Kiss and weep your tears while you wipe mine…
In life we learn how we fail not to fail again
Be courageous baby it’s not the end of the World

 When you fail I fail too…
Together we fail remember we are a team
Today you are in Grade 8 going to Grade 9 as per your result
As per your hard work …
As per your sleepless night

Today you remind me of that kick…
That little chat we use to have
The walk we had together to keep the bond strong tight
That kiss we shared
I love you

When you fail I fail too

 Dedicated to Lebohang Leew

© Vania Maoze

Previous by Vania

2014 Oct. 29:  “I always avoided fights”

Posted in Acceptance, Activists Act, Appreciation, Archived memories, Art Activism, Article by Vania Maoze, Uncategorized, Writing is a Right | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2016 Sept.13: My path to freedom and love for Self

My Life story

I could never have imagined the day would come where I could proudly say, I am a MAN!

My journey, though not yet over, has tested my resilience, my sense of self and has taught me to love and learn. I have spent my life apprising to become a version of myself I can relate to. A version on myself that authentically reflected the person I am inside.

Transition is a natural occurrence.  This particular transition is one that requires celebration.

I was born, Kebarileng Roseanne Sebetoane, a girl child raised by my grandmother. In a household of women, I was surrounded in every sense by femininity, through my transition I had to learn and unlearn my sense of self. As my parents were not actively involved in my life, the roles were filled by grandmother. She was a strong support structure, who showered me with unconditional love and protection until she passed in 2000.

Coming out to my grandmother was a comforting time, she was supportive in acknowledging my sexuality and she found solace in the reduced risk of teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDS. At an early age I knew I was attracted to women, most girls did not know I was born female because I played as and among boys.

In high school, I was introduced to other girls who dress as I do and were attracted to girls as I was. This gave me an identity. I identified as Lesbian. I was among people who gave me a place to belong and a space to feel secure.

In 2004, I met Zanele Muholi who introduced me to Forum for The Empowerment of Women (FEW). This offered a platform for me to lend my voice to a worthwhile cause. The events that followed solidified my desire to – even in the smallest fraction – help someone who, like me was a victim of hate crime.
Corrective rape is a reality we all face, and the need for men to try “correct” us is one we all face in different aspects. Following the rape, I was faced with the urgency to speak out not only of the corrective rape within the lesbian community but women in general. As so many women, as I was, are failed by the medical and judiciary system, this was an opportunity to provide comfort to them and myself that you are not alone.
Through FEW, I was able to broaden my understanding of patriarch, gender and sexuality. FEW offered me exposure through conferences, training and various social movements which awakened my consciousness. This was a turning point for me.

The disconnect I had experienced as a child between my physical being and the person I identified with continued to resurface. The curiosity of what it would mean for me to change my outer to match my inner lead me on research path; into the process, the availability of resources within South Africa and the introduction of this person I longed to share.

I had met transmen during time spent at FEW events, I had a sense of jealousy and a deeper sense of disconnect with myself.
How was in possible for me to envy and be bitter towards people I barely knew?
Introspection provided no answers, no satisfying answers.

When I met Sibusiso Kheswa in 2013, his own journey struck accord with me. Knowledge of his process provided a sense of hope and relief as this could be the first step to becoming ME. I spent time researching online and following other transmen’s journeys. I grow curious and wanted to further understand what it meant to be transgender and what options were available to me within South Africa. The understanding what it meant to be transgender led me to the realization that I was born in the wrong body. At that point identifying as a butch lesbian served as a betrayal of some sort because it offered no sense of belonging.

Through this realization, I developed a sense of ease in calling myself “him, he” in my private space. This refuge gave comfort to me, however this was not enough. It was not enough to be ME behind closed doors and Keba to everyone else. In my interactions with other transmen I was referred to a senior psychologist at Bara, the most profound and daunting task was when she asked me to live like a man for a year.
Baffled as it was all I knew, I only knew how to live my inner truth, what was different?
What would I be doing differently ‘as a man’?

As the process started, I began to notice the changes, my new treating doctor followed up on side effects and progress as the injections aided in moulding my physical to match my inner.

I am Karabo Rick Sebetoane, a Service Desk Analyst at Dimension data. I love writing and reading, I love learning and growth.
I am Karabo Rick Sebetoane, the kid who played soccer in high school, the man who wants to leave a legacy of love, a life lived with purpose and a positive impact on society.
I am Karabo Rick Sebetoane, you will remember me from first portrait in Faces and Phases as Kebarileng Roseanne Sebetoane.
Allow me to reintroduce myself, I am Mr. Karabo Rick Sebetoane.

My journey is far from over; I have lost loved one, reunited with loved one, felt discouraged, felt alone, I have persevered, I have lost and found myself and through it all I have grown. I have transitioned.

Portraits of Karabo featuring in Faces and Phases series (2006 – 2016), pictured from Left in (2012) and Right in (2016), Parktown, Johannesburg.

Author’s bio

“Karabo Rick Sebetoane is an out Transman, born in Kagiso (West-rand of Johannesburg). Karabo joined the activism movement in 2004 through Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW), straight after completing Matric in 2003, where he resumed the role of Community Representative.

Through FEW, Karabo has been exposed to various conferences and training, part of which was “The Women In Leadership” training with Gender AIDS Forum (GAF in Durban), he also was part of the first team to represent South Africa at the Chicago Gay Games in 2006 as part of the media team.
Beyond FEW, Karabo worked with Women’sNet, where his love of Information Technology was recognized and emphasized. Prior to the birth of Karabo Rick, Kebarileng Roseanne was the face of “The Rose has Thorns” campaign with a clear objective; to create visibility, educate and eradicate gender-based violence motivated by hate towards lesbian and bisexual women.
He is currently working with the Dimension Data in Bryanston, as an IT Service Desk Analyst since 2015 April.
Karabo loves reading and writing, prefers playing board games (chess) during leisure time, expresses himself well through dancing and writing. Based on the love for dynamics of the human brain, and personalities, Karabo will be enrolling with UNISA to study Clinical Psychology.


Related stories

2013 Oct. 13:  Frustrations of a transgender man


2013 Oct. 18:  Transition is in your hands


2013 Aug. 9: Transgender youth suicide in Johannesburg


2013 Oct. 4: I sensed something was wrong





Posted in 'We live in fear', Article by Karabo Sebetoane, Complexities of Transitioning, Female to Male (FTM), Freedom to be..., Resilience, Transition, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2016 Aug. 20: Lesego’s follow up

by Lesego Masilela

Our initial plan was to meet at Constitutional Hill, where we were supposed to do Faces and Phases 2016 follow up shoot. I ended up at Stevenson gallery in Braamfontein. I wasn’t sure if I should get in or wait outside because I’ve only been there when Zanele has an exhibition.

The security guard asked me why I’m there, I explained to him. I then asked if he knew Muholi. Security is tight there I must say, so I got inside and still I had to ring the bell so they could open another door for me. After they opened the door I went to the reception area, the were four people 3 females and a guy if I’m not mistaken. I told them I came to see Zanele Muholi and the guy told me to walk straight up and the 1st door on my right I should knock there. I don’t think I even knocked.

When I opened the door Muholi, Lerato and some lady were working. As always Muholi was all smiles and being her bubbly self saying Lesego ‘uswenkile’ we just laughed. I sat down, she spoke to that  which I forgot her name (not really good with names) about the follow ups while she was busy talking Lerato and I had our own chat she asked me where in Johannesburg do I live?
I explained that I don’t live there but I’m in a learnership in Johannesburg CBD, Zanele thought I said I live in Johannesburg but then I don’t blame her she has a lot in her mind.

Of course Muholi offered me something to drink and I took her coke. Put our bags in a safe place, she took her camera and put it in a strange bag saying abosikhotheni akafuni babone that she has a camera. It makes sense I mean, we live in notorious Johannesburg anything is possible to happen they can mug us especially if they saw that we had valuable  assets. Lerato, Zanele and I went out but Lerato was out to buy food as for me and Zanele we were hitting to New town that’s were my follow up shoot was going to take place.

I think Zanele wasn’t at ease with us walking, I could tell that she’s not comfortable. Whereas me on the other hand I was chilled and tried to make small talks for her not to think a lot about someone trying to rob her. On our way she kept telling me about her work, how she got to Market Photo Workshop where she studied photography.  We were meeting with another participant of Faces and Phases Phumzile Nkosi, while waiting for her Zanele asked me to standby the red lockers. She started taking photos of me saying she’s testing, said to me  ‘I want to break this fashion thing that you have’. The photos captured for testing looked perfect to me, I really love them.

2016 Aug. 19 Lesego Masilela _ MPW red locker _Newtown

2011 - 2016 Lesego before and after

Lesego Masilela featuring in Faces and Phases series, photo on the Left was taken (2011) and Right one on (2016)

When Phumzile was done locking we all went outside, Muholi started taking more photographs of me, she instructed me on what to do. I struggled with what she asked me to do cause I don’t think I’m that photogenic. We moved to nearest place for more images took both me and Phumzile pictures. I don’t think she was satisfied about the photos cause she asked Phumzile to meet up with her the next day and the fact that the were dodgy guys passing were we were working I don’t think that made her comfortable at all.. Zanele loves joking and mostly we were all laughing at the things she kept saying.

Phumzile and her friend left and me and Zanele waited for an uber to come pick us up.

2016 Aug. 19 When Faces Meet _ Muholi Lesego Phumzile _0747

Faces and Phases participants, L-R: Muholi, Lesego Masilela and Phumzile Nkosi.

Related links

2016 Aug. 20:  When Faces Meet in Joburg


Previous links


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




2015 Mar. 28:  When Faces Meet




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

Posted in Reflection, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2016 Aug. 20 When Faces Meet in Joburg

… we do what we do best.

Photos by Zanele Muholi

Camera used: Canon 6d with 85mm lens on tripod
How the photo was taken: 10 sec self timed…
What’s the occasion: Faces and Phases photo shoot

Who’s in the group photos below:  Faces and Phases participants

2016 Aug. 20 When Faces Meet ft Terra Sebe Rene Muholi _0866

L-R: Terra Dick, Sebe Langa, Rene Mathibe and Muholi Muholi


2016 Aug. 20 Group photo ft Muholi Phumzile & TK _ Auckland Park_0824

In Auckland Park with Phumzile Nkosi (centred) and TKay Kaula (right)






2016 Aug. 20 Group photo ft SJ Lerato Sade Lebo Terra Phumzile Rene Sebe Muholi Collen Lesego_3137

In Parktown with Faces and Phases participants and friends. Back row: L-R: Stefanie Jason, Lerato Dumse, Spola Solundwana, Sade Langa, Lebo and Terra Dick Front row: L-R: Phumzile Nkosi, Rene Mathibe, Sebe Langa, Muholi Muholi, Collen Mfazwe and Lesego Masilela



2016 Aug. 18 Muholi Pumeza Lerato Thembisa _ Willowvale_0662

In Willowvale, Eastern Cape with Muholi, Phura Ntonjane, Lerato Dumse and Thembisa Gonya



Previous links


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




2015 Mar. 28:  When Faces Meet




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




Posted in Another Approach Is Possible, Creating awareness, Expression, Power of the Voice, South Africa, We Are You, We Care, We Love Photography, We Still Can with/out Resources, Writing is a Right | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2016 Aug. 3: Erection elections

Text and photos by Lebo Mashifane

I was awoken by a phone call from my grandmother asking me if I am going to cast my vote. Indifferent with the elections, I answered “yes” just to make my old Lady happy.
It’s funny how we don’t see alike when it comes to defining “freedom”.
Clearly Gogo is excited about practicing her freedom with a 13 digits barcode that seems to determine everything. I see it as a systematic incarceration. Gogo said to me this morning on the phone call that I should look my best, put on nice clothes and make my hair neat. I guess if I had some political party badge or a religious badge I would be told to wear it with pride today. All along the only thing I think of is that “I have an article to write”. Now that’s me exercising my freedom to write what I like. Well of course the other option is to go around the corner of my street where the voting station is and vote. Big deal black people vote; the youth finds it useless and the elders hold pride in voting. I am a generation caught in between with a question: what is freedom?






It’s windy and dusty and I can’t even take pictures. Service delivery from government is that we have tar roads, how ironic that the road where the voting station nearby is has no tar, just gravel and people are to stand in this dust to say they are free?
People in my hood don’t have houses and they need to cast votes?
Excuse me for not fully understanding the system that has left black people shackled in their own minds while other races and nationalities have built their heaven in our country.  A country made of boarders that make Africans turn against each other but obey non Africans.

I feel like I need to psych myself into believing in something to vote for. Well alas I joined my mother in the voting queue and asked her a lot of questions about this situation. She too strongly believes that we need to cast out votes because when she was young, they fought for this freedom even though she also admits that it has been rottenly tempered with by people who are currently in leading power.


“It is an insult to those who were part of that struggle.” She says.
I wish to vomit frustration at the voting station.
I get an angry erection from this election.
I wish to see IEC in ICU for a change of heart.
13 digits starting in 8905 is what it costs to paint my thumbnail and voice me “silently” ironically to a question,
What is freedom, but a state of mind?


Previous by Lebo Mashifane

2016 May 19:  Day 7 PhotoXP visual diaries



Posted in Another Approach Is Possible, Archived memories, Expression, Power of the Voice, South Africa, We Are You, We Care, We Still Can with/out Resources, Writing is a Right | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2016 Aug. 9: Look back and go forward

by Mbali Zulu

Mbali Zulu, KwaThema, Springs, Johannesburg, 2010 featuring in Muholi's Faces & Phases black and white portraiture series

Mbali Zulu, KwaThema, Springs, Johannesburg, 2010

Look back and go forward. Looking at the picture of the group
I am forced to look back and go forward.

What is it that I am looking back at?

What is it that I am going forward to?

One would probably ask these questions.
What impact did this weekend have on me?

What do I remember most about this weekend?

And would I be interested in attending another Yithi Laba conference?


Yithi Laba 2015 conference delegates

2015 Yithi Laba conference delegates

I am now looking back at the photo; history was made during this weekend. We were the first group to attend a conference in the Faces and Phases series. I feel honoured, I must say. Young black lesbians from different parts of South Africa were chosen to attend this conference. It was fun and educational. It made me realize that there will always be room for growth. One must have no room for limits, but  growth.

Looking back at the photo is actually a good thing, because now all I want to do is look forward, go faster, and push harder. I am motivated once again, it feels like yesterday. I was really motivated and still am. This group of people consists of intelligent individuals, gifted lesbians, big dreamers, free spirited souls, leaders and our mothers.

Our mothers who attended the conference, from L-R:  Mally Simelane and Mapaseka Mthunzi

Our mothers who attended the conference, from L-R: Mally Simelane and Mapaseka Mthunzi

Our mothers, now that I have mentioned them. A flashback just crossed my mind, a moment I will never forget, a very touching and important one. Let me fill you in, on Saturday we had a special visit from our mothers, I mean the mothers of young black lesbians. They were there to motivate us, to tell us their stories and experiences. I was really touched. I learned that we as young black lesbians are not the only ones who are affected, but the ones who are really close to us are affected as well, especially our parents. I learnt that we not the only ones who sometimes get victimized, but our parents also do, however what kept me going is that, they love us regardless of our sexuality. They really deserve our love and respect.

A very cold weekend it was, but the warmth that I felt there was amazing. Most of us knew each other from social networks and not in person. We were fortunate to share our stories and life experiences, we got a chance to know each other better and got to understand each other’s gifts. We had soccer players, visual artists, teachers, police, photographers, designers, poets etc. I actually thought to myself that, with this group of people, we can create a very powerful project. I didn’t know then, what was it, I still don’t know what’s it going to be, but I know that there will be. This is a very powerful photo, with powerful individuals and yes I’d like to attend another Yithi Laba conference.
Who wouldn’t?

leptie presents_5623leptie s photography_5209

Related link


2015 July 7:  A month later after Yithi Laba conference




2015 June 6:  Lesbian youth gather at Constitution Hill for the first ever Yithi Laba conference





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2016 July 28: See Me…

Text by Lindiwe Dhlamini
Photos by Luyanda Mthembu

Often in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Asexual, Queer + (LGBTIAQ+) community we have a tendency not to acknowledge one another. We tend to invisibilize one another without thinking twice about it. Despite the fact that we belong in the same community and have ‘some’ similar struggles that we are fighting for, we have become a community that works as a Pay-As-You-GO.
We are reactionary in our politics and many have given up the fight for equal rights because; the more things change, the more they stay the same. It is very troubling how we as the LGBTIAQ+ community talk and treat each other at events and other spaces that we occupy. What happened to unity, or solidarity as we call it?
What happened to intersectionality in our LGBTIAQ+ Prides?


2016 July 23 One Love marchers _ Durban Pride3_3005

2016 July 23 Durban Pride t-shirt_2992


I attended the Durban LGBTIAQ+ Pride Parade 2016 and I must say I feel that this was my last pride in Durban or any other city that hosts their Pride in the suburbs while visibility is needed more in the townships where our Black LGBTIAQ+ persons are assaulted, raped and murdered daily. I have to admit that LGBTIAQ+ Pride has totally lost context from what was envisioned by the likes of Simon Nkoli, Bev Ditsie and ‘others’ who started pride in South Africa. The political space that was meant to create awareness and highlight the plight of hate crimes that are directed at LGBTIAQ+ persons has now become a frivolous event that is filled with petty politics and liberals who have commodified the space for capital gain.


2016 July 23 Durban Pride audience_2955


2016 July 23 Durban Pride _ Rainbow flag _3044

In my opinion, LGBTIAQ+ Pride has lost the intersectional lens that many of us who are still in it for/with the same politics that is; to create awareness and educate about LGBTIAQ+ in an intersectional lens with hopes of alleviating the hate crimes. We are left with heavy hearts and uncertainty about the future of LGBTIAQ+ Pride. The gender identity/expression, class and race politics have been distorted by the rainbowism[1] bull***t that we are supposedly “equal” according to the constitution of South Africa. Moreover, the residential positionality of the attendants of LGBTIAQ+ Pride is/has been completely disregarded and we need to go back to the drawing board and teach each other what exactly LGBTIAQ+ Pride is about and for who(m) and the importance of LGBTIAQ+ Pride.


2016 July 23 Faces and Beauties crew _ Durban_9705

Braves Beauties, Faces and Phases participants and friends at Shaka Marine World in Durban. Photo by Lebo Mashifane

I can say one interesting part about my trip to Durban Pride was meeting the participants of Faces and Phases a project by Zanele Muholi. I have written academic assignments about them but, I have never had the pleasure of meeting them face to face. And when I got the opportunity to spend my Sunday afternoon with them, it was an honour to hear their stories in person. Furthermore, I got the pleasure of meeting the participants of the Brave Beauties the new project that Muholi is working on with transwomxn.

Amongst the Brave Beauties, I had the pleasure of meeting a young beautiful transwomxn by the name of Eva. Eva is deaf, and after Muholi alerted me to translate for her through text what was being said in the room, it was only then that I realised that I was also guilty of erasing her in that space. I felt so guilty and angry at myself for not thinking about translating for her before being asked by Muholi. After a while, I had to remind myself that I am human and I am still learning and unlearning a lot of things as a self-identifying Fallist [2].

The erasure in LGBTIAQ+ Prides is so rife and sickening, it does not only apply to those who live with disabilities but, there are many other people at LGBTIAQ+ Prides who get erased and it is so normalised that we don’t even question it. It is little things such as; ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ in our greetings. The violence of mis-gendering and erasing those who are gender non-conforming, gender non-binary etc. I remember at last year’s Durban Pride I argued with the organisers for gendering the toilets as ‘Male and Female’. This gender dichotomy was not only perpetuating erasure of those who do not identify with their cis-gendered-ness, but it was violent especially, in a space that is meant to be safe for all who belong under the LGBTIAQ+ community. Therefore, I infer that, it is these little things that we take for granted that contribute to psychological trauma of those who do not fall within the mainstream gender identity/expression(s). And until we commit to learning and unlearning we cannot claim that our LGBTIAQ+ Prides are inclusive and safe for all who identify as LGBTIAQ+. I wish for a pride that is political and speaks to the issues that are affecting us as LGBTIAQ+ persons, I cannot stress the importance of such a Pride especially with so many lives that we have lost in our community.

I want an LGBTIAQ+ Pride that sees me as a Black lesbian womxn from the township with lack of access to resources such as; safer sex barrier methods, poor health and safety services from government officials. I want an LGBTIAQ+ Pride that will acknowledges the risk I take to attend an event so far away from my township to create awareness in town, and go back to being victimised and threatened to be ‘corrected’ because of my sexuality in the township. I want an LGBTIAQ+ Pride that understands and acknowledges my/our intersecting identities as a Black poor womxn/LGBTIAQ+, who cannot afford the exorbitant entrance fees for me to celebrate after Pride party. I want an LGBTIAQ+ Pride that sees me not only as part of LGBTIAQ+ community, but sees my oppressions and addresses them.
I want to be seen, see me, not only when I become another statistic of rape and murder.



[1] Rainbowism – the concept that came with Nelson Mandela that ‘we’ are a rainbow nation and race does not matter (Fuck that s**t!)

[2] Fallist – a person who is determine to make all oppressions fall.


Related links


2015 Oct. 6: So Proud of Soweto Pride




2015 June 27:  My best Oslo Pride




2014 Oct. 8:  Beautiful faces and kisses from Soweto Pride 2014





Posted in 2016 Durban Pride, Academic, Another Approach Is Possible, Archived memories, Brave Beauties, Brave Beauties participants, cisgender, Creating awareness, Expression, Faces and Phases participants, Fallist, Gender Identity, Johannesburg comes to Durban, LGBTIAQ, LGBTIAQ struggles in Africa, mis-gendering, Oppression, PhotoXP photographers, Positionality, Power of the Voice, Pride March, Race politics, Rainbowism, South Africa, South African Constitution, transwomxn, We Are You, We Care, We Still Can with/out Resources, Writing is a Right | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment