2016 Sept. 30: Who are we really?

It has been 15 months since Yithi Laba youth conference passed and it feels like it was yesterday. I honestly do not like putting my words on paper, Zanele Muholi keeps bugging me to write something and I always drag it.
I just believe that we can’t all be writers, can I get an Amen?

Okay now getting to why I decided to write this article. I was prompted by a picture of Faces and Phases participants taken on August 25 2016. What stood out for me was the attached statement “THIS IS WHO WE ARE!”
I asked myself, who are we really?

After the conference, I participated in the 2015 Ford Ranger Odyssey Africa competition.
I was selected from over 11000 applicants from all over Africa to be in the Top 40.
I went to the boot camp for 4 days at Prince Albert in the Karoo, after the boot camp I was selected as part of the Top 20 to go to Namibia for 12 days.
Even though at the end of it all I did not win the competition, I was one the two females in the Top 5. It would have been great in fact AWESOME to have won, but the true prize for me was being able to spend 12 incredible days in Namibia, driving in the Namibian Desert in the most hard core bakkie in the world the Ford Ranger 3.2 TDCi Double Cab XLT 6MT 4×4.
I saw the most incredible places ever.


The highest peak in Namibia: The Burnt Mountain, the most amazing place when the sun sets Spitzkoppe. At one point we were about 30km from the Angola boarder. It is 12 days that I will cherish for the rest of my life on earth and eternity.
Mind you, it was the first time I crossed the South African boarder, first stamp on my passport. All expenses paid baby! What a journey it was.
We were 20 different people from all over Africa (South Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire).


Camping in the wild was our way of life. Sleeping under the blanket of stars and the moon, seeing them so bright and clear, WOW! Being one with nature. I learned a lot, the culture of Namibians, their flora and fauna. Their way of life and different tribes: the Himba and Herero people).
We learned about different rules about not being able to travel with uncooked meat from one place to another due the different types of animal diseases. And you know what that meant, yes!
Exactly that, we had to eat meat the whole day before “crossing” to another place the next day. I even considered becoming a “vegetarian” at one point. LOL!
So my 2015 was most definitely an eventful one.


I got to camp outside for the first time in my life.
Why was it my first time?
I asked myself that question every day since I started camping. Me answering me “because camping is not for black people.” What a lot of cow dung. Camping is for everyone, I just told myself it was only for white people, stupid me. I missed out on whole lot of great nights outside. I got to drive a Ford Ranger, who knew?
Me one day driving a Ford Ranger, Never! If I had never took a chance and entered the competition, if I never left my comfort zone. I would have never experienced what I experienced! I would have always told myself that black people don’t camp and you know what. I would have NEVER driven a Ford Ranger. Not because I cannot afford it because I never noticed it even though it drove past me every day, it was just another bakkie on the road.  That is why I asked myself, who are we really?

Are we people who are defined by ignorance, by standard and stereo type of other people, are people who are defined by what we went through, what happened to us or what never happened to us?
Are we defined by what we were supposed to get, but someone did something in order for us not to get it?
Are we defined by having either both parents or one parent, who literally does not exist in our lives even though they/he/she is/are still alive?
Are we defined by being orphans or having one parent who would break his/her back for us, just to see us succeed and we show little or no interest at all, and throw it back into their faces?
Are we defined by the level of education, qualifications and success or rather the lack of? Who are we really?

I keep asking myself how has life changed for the other Faces I met last year.
What challenges did they faces and if those challenges won and broke their will to live forever?
Or who like me has a story of adventure to tell. It might not be the same as mine, but it was their adventure and they enjoyed it. Some might know the challenges I went through to be were I am, but I never let them dictate my future. I defined and dictate my future. The moment I open my eyes in the morning the devil gets a headache because he knows, whatever challenge I face, I do not face it alone for my Rock and Fortress, my place is safety is Alive. I wake up every day and I thank God that I am alive.
Who I am, you ask?

So Faces!



Previous by Amo Senokwane

2015 June 15:  Yithi Laba (We are Pioneers)


2014 Feb. 5: Love Conquers All


2013 Aug.22:  Am exactly where I’m supposed to be 






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2016 Sept. 5 Awake

by Vania Cruz Maoze

How do you start a day without knowing how it will end?
We dream to see the reality. The reality is that here in South Africa it was started by people such as Simon Nkoli. He was a gay activist fighting against apartheid and advocating for gay rights. Freedom for black people was all they ever wanted. As the road to freedom was paved, a space for homosexuals to gather peacefully without questions was needed. The first SA homosexual March happened in Johannesburg and was led by Nkoli in 1990.

Today we have lost respect and dignity for that right. Our right to be who we are, to fight for our existence. Years later and the dignity of Pride is loosing value.
If the late Simon Nkoli was here what would be his words?
Would he raise his hand and state “Aluta Continua”?
Will our fight benefit future generations?
Will the discrimination amongst us excite him?



In this present time our blood is being shared on these streets we are proud off. A thief named Hate Crime corners us, in order to prove our sexuality. It finds joy in our weep. Justice closes its ears while pending cases pile up. The little rights we have are abused by us. If knowledge and power can unite, we will claim victory in this battle.

Today I woke up to breath some hope at Mahlathini Park, for the first Vosloorus Pride on 27 August 2016. I woke up and realized the dream came true; it started in 2009. Yes only a few witness the seed. A few people believed in seeing it bear fruits. “Many are called, a few have been chosen.



We received blissful feedback from a youngster who will write about it. Write to talk about the history of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex, existence. True hunger is to know it. I will live to read my words in a book; this day soothed my soul. If the sun can be still then all will be in vain. The support was a mouthful. We believe that we had to start small and somewhere.



To my late mother, I wake to thank you for sharpening me. I still smile thinking about your words and I miss you. To my beautiful sisters I thank you. You have my back all the way. To Tisa Tshireletso team like stars in the sky – you shine. To the community at large I thank you. You believe that it can be done. As we say Tisa Tshireletso is where leaders are groomed.

Before I finish my day was off, it was legendary. The day was marked by my print, our print. Vosloorus Pride.

Signed TTO director Vania Cruz Maoze.




Previous by Vania

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


2014 Oct. 29:  “I always avoided fights”



Related links

2015 Oct. 6:  So Proud of Soweto Pride


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




Posted in 2016 Vosloo Pride, Article by Vania Cruz Maoze, South African township, TTO, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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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