2016 Sept. 15: A decade of Faces and Phases

by Donna A M Smith

Johannesburg, September 2016

Much has been written and said about award-winning photographer, Zanele Muholi, and her ground-breaking work of documenting the lives of black lesbians and transgender persons in South Africa and other parts of the continent, as well as in the Diaspora. Not all of it has been complimentary. In fact, I overheard a conversation some time ago among a group of young black queer women activist intellectuals bemoaning the fact that no-one was telling “our” stories. When I suggested that Muholi was doing exactly that, they dismissed her work as elitist, in that its primary target is academics in North America and Europe; and biased, in that it focuses on poor, black lesbians in the townships of South Africa, who have experienced violence and other forms of abuse.

Knowing where Muholi is coming from, and what drives her, I was – and still am – profoundly hurt and offended by this discourse. At the same time, I can’t help but thinking, is this not the appeal of Muholi’s Faces and Phases series – its authenticity, its sincerity, its honesty?
The fact that it tells the story that Muholi knows, the story of her friends, neighbours, colleagues, community, people she grew up with – her story?
The fact that it dares to tell the story through the eyes of those who live it, to those who would presume to tell it on their behalf?

When I met Muholi 17 years ago, there were no indicators of the particular role that she was destined to play. She had no camera, no formal training in photography, no plan, no connections, no following, no crew. But she loved pictures – not just taking them, but pictures in and of themselves – the stories they tell, the way they are able to capture particular moments in time, in the way words cannot. And she loved people, being with people, living and working and making things happen for/ with people, taking pictures of people being themselves.

In particular, Muholi loved/loves women – not just romantically or sexually as a lesbian, but with a profound appreciation and respect for our power, as women; our capacity for understanding, compassion and nurturing; our strength, forbearance and resilience; our capabilities, our wisdom; our ability to achieve whatever we set our minds to, against all odds, and without the advantage of male privilege. As she was raised by a single mother – a warm, loving woman, the sweetest, most compassionate, supportive, accepting soul I’ve ever known – in a household dominated by an array of formidable older sisters, this is not surprising.

Most importantly, Muholi had a vision of the quality of life that she and other black lesbians should be enjoying, and an almost scary determination to close the gap between their lived realities, and that vision. And she knew instinctively that the place to start would be to expose that gap, by documenting our lives and telling our stories, in our voices, in various spaces.

Previously, what was seen in the media about black lesbians was either the product of some hetero-sexual male’s uninformed imagination, or some scandalous titbit of celebrity gossip, that bore no relation to our experiences. There was very little actual research, and such as existed was mostly generated by journalists and academics overseas whose primary sources were few and far-between. Images of black lesbians were virtually non-existent, so much so that it was easy to suppose we ourselves also did not exist.

It was the need to reverse this trend that led to Muholi’s first Photography Experience (PXP1), as part of the Skills Development programme of Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW), the black lesbian organisation we co-founded in 2002. Having by then honed her own skills through the Market Photography Workshop, she wanted to share what she had learnt with others, and empower them to tell their own stories on their own terms.


Busi Sigasa

Kodak SA captured the vision and donated cameras and technical support. In the group of trainees was the late Busi Sigasa, a talented writer and poet who was one of the first four official spokespersons for FEW’s anti- hate crimes campaign, the Rose has Thorns, and the first person to be photographed for the Faces and Phases series. Sigasa died in 2006, the year of the first Faces and Phases inception, from a lingering illness that may have been related to the violence she experienced because of her sexual orientation.

But it must be understood that Faces and Phases did not start as a standalone photography project. Its context was FEW’s work of documenting and reporting hate crimes against black lesbians in South African townships. As part of the interviews – which often took place over many visits during which trust grew and bonds developed – Muholi would request permission to capture images of the interviewees, to go with their stories.

This grew into a body of work which was capable of telling these stories even without the words. But many of these images did not show faces; and, focused as they were on survivors of hate crimes, they presented Only half the picture – the title of one of Muholi’s earliest exhibitions.  As important as it was to keep the conversation about hate crimes going, there was a danger of a skewed perception of black lesbian lives.


hate crime survivor at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital (2004)

2004-aftermathBeyond our sexuality, beyond our vulnerability to particular forms of violence and abuse because of our sexuality, lesbians are also mothers, sisters, aunts, friends; among us are professionals in various fields – we are artists, athletes, activists, lawyers, entrepreneurs, doctors, cleaners, care-givers, engineers, educators, journalists, priests. We live everywhere, not just in the townships. And we are more, so much more, than just statistics.

So the time eventually came when the discourse had to move beyond victimhood, when the rest of our story needed to be told. And Faces and Phases, a collection of portraits of black lesbian women and transgender persons from all walks of life, was Muholi’s response to that need.

Over the decade since its inception, the series has made nonsense of the assertion that homosexuality is “un-African”, by placing before the public image after image of very African homosexual women and transgender persons. We exist, we are here, we are part of the fabric of our societies, the series screams.

But Faces and Phases is about more than visibility – it is also about urgency. Muholi is always careful to explain that the individuals in her photographs are not subjects, but participants. Many of them are women she interviewed, supported and trained during her work at FEW, and continued to support and work with afterwards. Some she has taken with her on her travels, wherever their images are being exhibited, and exposed to various opportunities. Some she has mentored and equipped as budding documenters; others she has assisted in furthering their education.

2016 May 20 Lesego Muholi Selaelo @ICA_7148

Lesego Tlhwale, Muholi, Selaelo Mannya (2016). Photo by Lindeka Qampi

Participants choose how they wish to be presented – the setting, their clothes, even their poses, where they feel strongly enough about it. Despite this variety of contexts, Muholi’s style is distinctive, and as uncompromising as the gaze that participants return to the camera. Making the portraits black and white – Muholi’s favourite medium – immediately evokes the racial tension that is still so very much a part of the South African landscape.

The faces are unsmiling, but open, inviting engagement, making it clear that this is not entertainment, but communication. And what are they communicating?
They’re saying: see me as the person that I am, not a phenomenon to be studied and interpreted. I am able – and willing – to speak my own truth, if you are willing and able to hear it.


Funeka Soldaat, Makhaza, Khayelitsha, Cape Town, 2010

Funeka Soldaat, Makhaza, Khayelitsha, Cape Town (2010)

The eyes in particular ask the question: What don’t you see when you look at me? – the title of another of Muholi’s earlier exhibitions. They invite a closer, deeper look into them, to see the pain and joys, the hopes, the fears, the love and laughter, that are all part of what the person behind the image has experienced, and who she is.

There is a certain dignity about each portrait, and the defiant stance – head raised, shoulders back – says: accept me as I am, stop trying to make me into what you want. And if you won’t, I’m willing to resist, to stand up to whatever you might throw at me. I may bend, I may wobble, but I will not allow you to break me.

buhle msibi sm_1

Buhle Msibi (2005). Photo by Zanele Muholi

Over the decade since the first F&P exhibition, many black lesbian lives have been lost, either to violence or illnesses related to violence. In the same year that Busi died, another FEW stalwart – multi-talented artist, activist and mother, Buhle Msibi – succumbed to an AIDS-related condition which, as bad as it often got, rarely prevented her from showing up at, and contributing to, our events and activities.

The series seeks, as well, to call to mind and honour them, and others like them – death is, after all, one phase that we will all experience, sooner or later. And, before that, there is aging; and, before that, career changes, and life events like marriage, loss of loved ones, becoming parents, re-locating; and before that, the movement from childhood, to adulthood, to maturity.

The Faces and Phases series reflects all of these, at the same time as it tracks the phases Muholi herself has gone through. Each exhibition tells a new tale of her development as a visual activist before an artist, and her evolution as a human being.

But there is another type of transition that Faces and Phases has always spoken to, and that is the transition from one gender to another. Long before the LGBTI community had any proper conversations or developed any real understanding of what it meant to be transgender; and long before transgender issues became the flavour of the month for funders in the gender and sexuality sector, the F&P exhibitions included images of women who were so masculine-presenting as to completely turn on their heads whatever notions viewers may have had previously about gender.


Karabo Sebetoane in 2012 and 2016 portraits featuring in Faces and Phases series  

I can’t be sure without some research on my part, but it’s a safe bet that some of those participants have since “come out” as transgender, and may have even started the process of changing their gender medically. And, if that is the case, I have no doubt that it was seeing their images – unapologetic, just-as-I-am, looking back at them, that gave them the courage to embark on that phase of their journeys.

So, then, Faces and Phases is also about claiming and occupying space – not only political and social space, but also space for self-reflection. This is why the exhibitions are always packed to the rafters with Muholi’s constituency – because they provide all three. And also because Muholi makes every effort to ensure that the participants in the project are able to attend and see the results of their work together, including sponsored transport for those who would not otherwise be able to make it.

The exhibition spaces provide a platform for individuals to tell their stories to wider audiences, and actively engage in the discourse about their lives. And while this might not change the price of bread for them, it has immense potential for changing the narrative; and if the narrative changes, then so will the outcome.

Faces and Phases is more, much more than just a collection of photographic works for exhibition. It is a relationship between photographer and participants, participants and society. It locates black lesbians and transgender persons within the body politic, and guarantees that we will not be obliterated from history, like so many minorities in previous civilisations. It is a record, for all posterity, of our presence here, an assurance that never again can it be said that “such human beings” do not exist in Africa.

2016 April 27 Faces participants main_9724

2016 April 27 Faces and Phases participants001_9023

Book handover in Pietermaritzburg… Featuring from L-R: Londeka Xulu, Cassie Dlamini, Phila Mbanjwa, Shirley Ndaba, Muholi, Sunday Mdlankomo and Thobe Mpulo (2016)

2014 Dec. 12 Five participants_6803

Nondi Vokwana, Gazi T. Zuma, TK Khumalo, Lerato Dumse and Muholi at Faces and Phases book launch in Umlazi, Durban (2014)

So as the series celebrates its tenth year running, this is my challenge to any person who so blithely dismiss this work because they are unable to understand its importance: Muholi has consistently, with courage, determination and raw honesty, told the story she knows best – her own. When and how will you begin to tell yours?

[E N D]

Photos below are by Terra Dick taken at the Faces and Phases 10 anniversary


Charmain Carrol



Bathini Dambuza


Lebo ‘Leptie’ Phume



Muholi Muholi…


Previous links

2016 April 2:  Faces and Phases follow-ups


Related link

Voice and Visibility: Zanele Muholi’s ‘Faces and Phases 10’





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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




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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