2019 April. 12: Free State Arts Symposium The Essential Ingredient 

Review by Thobeka Bhengu

 On the 21st of March 2019, Inkanyiso Media team in support of Sir Zanele Muholi attended the 3rd annual Free State Arts Symposium (FSAS) 2019, the queer edition, which looked at the essential ingredient. The symposium brought under one roof various artists, activists, photographers, theatre practitioners and researches who shared their work, ideas and the essential ingredient in their work.

Nosana Sondiyazi, the co-founder of the Free States Arts Symposium and the recently elected Free State Provincial LGBTI sector Chairperson welcomed the guests and was also the master of ceremony for the day-long symposium. She spoke briefly about how she realized that Free-State based art practitioners began to make information transparent around opportunities and share platforms that are accessible to them by inviting a variety of local practitioners.

She expressed that artists required information about how their work could be seen in these theatres, arts festivals and performance spaces; and it was about time the Free State Art Symposium had a queer edition that provided a platform for discussions and deliberations amongst queer artists.
Mam’ Thoko Nogabe who is an arts activist and Board Secretary of the National Arts Council welcomed the guests on behalf of the National Arts Council which has partnered with the FSAF. Nogabe spoke about how Free States artists are not applying and pleaded with the artists to respond to the funding calls and submit their applications for financial support.

Steve Letsike, the National Chairperson of the South African National Aids Council was the first speaker who acknowledged the importance of Human Rights Day and spoke about the Bill of Rights and how we can use the document to protect rights. She spoke frankly about how sectors like sports, arts and culture have been left behind in a democratic South Africa and how as artists, we ought to reclaim our space and get to where we belong.

Letsike acknowledged and reminded the guests of how important human rights are in the region and globally. How we should think about our own role, our own responsibility and the silence that lives around us and the different spaces we occupy and interact with. Letsike looked at the issue of inequality and how some artists do not have administrative skills that are required to fill out these twenty pages long application forms, hence they struggle with meeting the requirements and compliance required in the application processes. Letsike also shared an idea of providing administrative training for artists to make sure that the application process is easier for artists. Adv Mpho Nefuri was the keynote address who encompassed a number of relevant issues in her keynote. Nefuri addressed the relationship between Arts and the law and explored what it means to have a great idea, share it with people, somebody uses it, makes millions out of it and patent it. Mpho also spoke about openness, acceptance, a safe and supportive environment for LGBTI+ people. She further looked at the power of patriarchy and its root into our social system, where men hold primary power. She reminded us that history has proved that too much power in any form is harmful to the greater good of society.

The Director of Free State Arts Festival Dr Ricardo Peach shared a poem by Graeme Reed titled “You know” and focused on queer culture, queer rights and how they manage to work together. Dr Ricardo analyzed the origins of the word queer, where the concept of queer comes from and the meaning of queer and how “queer” has been used for queer politics and queer theories.

After Dr Ricardo’s presentation, a panel discussion on a Human Rights Concept in the Performing Arts commenced. The panel consisted of three performing artists, Jefferson J Dirks an award-winning Free State art practitioner, writer and director who will soon be showing his work at the Dance Umbrella Africa 2019. Wezile Mgibe an art practitioner who uses performance and visual art for social change and Asanda Mqiki from Port Elizabeth who entertained the guests with a song from her new album before the discussion began. The panelists spoke about healing, ideal spaces for healing, work that speaks on behalf of the minority and how theatre and arts can be used for social change.

The second session was on literature focusing on Queer Histories in South Africa-Identities and Disruptive Narratives of Being. The session moderated by Tambu Muzenda joined by three panelists, Landa Mabenge an author of Becoming Him-a trans memoir of triumph; Efemia Chela a writer whose short stories have been published in Short. Sharp. Stories. Brittle Paper and As You Like It and Corneli van den Berg who presented information about the Free State International Festival, as the coordinator of the festival since 2017. The session echoed a call for more literature and knowledge around gender and sexuality in Africa. Tambu also spoke to Efemia about her book and insight into her book in an African context, on gender, sexuality and identity.  Landa Mabenge gave insight into his journey as a transgender man, from his background, family and the community he came from that believed in its old traditions and its ways. Mabenge spoke candidly about his struggle with emotional, psychological and physical abuse and how he had to suppress who he was because he had to deal with these imminent issues.

The third session focused on living archives and photography. A session moderated by Nosana Sondiyazi with a panel of three photographers namely, Robert HamblinLihlumelo Toyana and Sir Zanele Muholi. Lihlumelo was first to present her work, she is a documentary photographer and visual activist who believes that photography is an important tool towards social change and social justice. The photographers prepared presentations of their work with Robert reciting a heart-rending conversation with Leigh Davids, who recently passed away. Robert is an artist and gender activist whose work focuses on issues of masculinity, transgender activism and complexities around sex work in South Africa.

Sir Muholi an internationally renowned visual activist and photographer presented various works from their five publications. The images presented depicted several themes such as intimacy, interracial relationships, politics of representation, a series of black and white portraits that commemorate and celebrate black lesbians; images of feminine gay men, transgender men, transgender women and self-portraits that confront the politics of race, racial profiling, historical racism and blackness.

Nosana posed the fundamental question that summarized the symposium of what were the essential ingredients for each photographer in their work. Their essential ingredients varied with Lihlumelo’s essential ingredients being the honor that she gets from different people and how those people allow her into their spaces, their homes and allow her to capture their souls.  Robert spoke about how the challenge for him has been that he has become the enemy as a male and as a white male. His essential ingredients have been to learn, to listen, try to dilute whiteness and dilute cis heteronormativity. Muholi’s essential ingredients have been the beauty of the people or participants they get to interact with, relationships created which are more valuable than the images themselves and their colleagues (the team Muholi works with). This session finally ended with a question and answer session. Where the audience asked questions around collaborations in reference to copyrights (who owns the work?), the inspiration behind certain works, the target market, representation and what makes everything worthwhile. The photographers humbly responded to the questions and the session came to an end.

The last session of the symposium was a session on A Social Justice Agenda on Queer Spaces facilitated by Tambu Muzenda and joined by Andiswa Dlamini, Reabetswe Mokone and Advocate Mpho Nefuri. Andiswa is the founder of the Other Village which runs a social safe space called Same Sex Saturdays. Andiswa’s vision was to create a space for queer people where its safe and people can socialize and network. Reabetswe is the Project Manager of Arts and Health, a Creative Producer of The Public Art Project, who is also a poet, actress, singer and social activist. Reabetwe is passionate about using arts as a medium to produce real mental change. The panel looked at several issues dealing with legal disputes, using arts to engage, creating safe social spaces and ensuring that these spaces can be internal queer safe spaces. They also discussed complexities of the term “safe space”, personal safe spaces, personal responsibility, how we individually need to recognize our privileges and how we need to come into spaces recognizing these privileges.

The 3rd annual Free State Arts Symposium closed off with recommendations and suggestions for the next FSAS from the guests. These recommendations and suggestions which were noted and might help in the advancement of the Free State Arts Symposium.

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Posted in Conference, Free State, From Johannesburg to Free State, Homosexuality, Issues of sexuality, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex (LGBTI), Provision of health care for Transgender community in SA, Race, Race and Sexuality, Race politics, Sexuality in South Africa, Transgender Voices, Uncategorized, Zanele Muholi, Zanele Muholi Amherst College visit, Zanele Muholi documented Thapelo Makutlhe's funeral in 2012, Zanele Muholi for Light Work AIR 2015, Zanele Muholi is the winner, Zanele Muholi movements | Leave a comment

2019 April. 11: Makaziwe she exists

by Lindiwe Dhlamini 

A blissful evening filled with pride, joy, warm energies and what I could call; an educational spiritual awakening. The opening of Makaziwe exhibition on the 30th of March 2019 saw the community of Tembisa and outside guests gracing the #Yes4Youth Community Art Centre. It was a night to witness the beauty and talent displayed on the walls. The Centre was established to support local artists and it did not take much for the organizers of the event Dineo Mnyaba, Shirley Mtombeni and Collen Makgongwa to bring an experience that supersedes the perceptions of galleries, their location and assumed audience.

This group exhibition was born from a true-life story inspired by a young woman named Makaziwe who has survived most of the harsh realities of life. Makaziwe (let her be known) has her story turned into a theatre performance piece written by Shirley and produced by Dineo. They were inspired to find other creative ways to keep the spirit of Makaziwe alive that is how an exhibition idea was embraced.

Although the event started over an hour late, one could not deny the talent and powerful messages that the images on the wall were telling. Speaking to the artists gave a much deeper understanding of their work. There was a total of eight artists that were showing, seven women and one man. I was very impressed with the level of talent and felt honored to be allowed the time to interview the showing artists.

Phumzile Nkosi, photographer, a queer, traditional healer and Faces and Phases participant exhibited her own body of work. With a theme titled; ‘Nkosazana ka Baba’ which means my father’s daughter, she displayed images of what I see as gender disruption. It was self-portraits of her wearing what is socially identified as “women’s two piece or “twee stukke” as it was called in the 90’s, a fawn checked skirt and blazer. She wore this with silky black stockings, the images were a cohesion of getting dressed where in some of the images, she is only wearing a vest, underwear and in a process of pulling up her stockings. Her message was “I wear as I wish, it does not define my sexuality”. I found this very powerful as it disrupted the norms of gender and offers us the opportunity to question the social constructions of clothing and gender identity or expression.

Cleo Matiwane a young talented film maker turned photographer who was motivated by the theme to submit her powerful work titled; ‘Consent’. A topic so relevant and highly important in the current world we live in where rape culture and violence has become our everyday norm. Cleo’s work displayed participants with their mouths covered with red tape written CONSENT in black. Cleo’s message was clear, women are human not sexual objects they deserve respect and consent is paramount in these interactions.

Mosa Sekele a film student who was showing works of a trapped woman fighting to be free and seen. Her body of work highlighted the struggles of a young woman who deals with her past and seeking to break free from those bounds. Mosa’s participant; Luthando Simoyi is seen in sequence showing different types of entrapments from daily struggle, in the end she is seen smiling and happy to have broken free from those bounds. Mosa shares the passion of telling woman stories in order to be seen and known. Although it was her first exhibition, her story line and chosen images indicates a passion that will flourish beyond measure if the fire is kept burning. I loved her passion when the presentations opened, you can feel she believes in letting her be known.

Bud’abuphangwa Mtombini the only male showing artist in Makaziwe says he is concerned about the levels of violence against women in South Africa. Bude had beautifully drawn images which carried emotionally heavy yet powerful messages about women. He states that; this body of work was inspired by daily living experiences of the women around him in his community. In his series, he covered issues of rape culture, education, silencing, body shaming, heartbreak, poverty and sexuality. He argues that his drawings were designed to show men the power of a woman which is not acknowledged much in his community. He says that; women are stronger than what we men think and growing up around women has taught me to raise my voice through action, hence I am participating in this exhibition, I want these women to be known and seen; Makaziwe”.

Lebogang Molote showed work that filled with bright, beautiful colors. Her images had a sense of familiarity with who we are as Black people and how we choose to express our cultural differences through attire. Lebogang’s work was a reminder of who we are and where we come from, its presented in a modernized expression shown by the women in her images. The pride on their faces wearing traditional attire in relation to tribal judgements that women may face because of their body sizes, skin color or their age. Instead, Lebogang, chose to celebrate these women regardless of the negativity that the world imposes on women and what they choose to wear. “I am choosing to let these women be known that they exist and that they are beautiful in their own skin”.

Matheko Malebane in her series used images of a young woman half nude covered in animal skin mat. Matheko described her work as a journey one takes with creation of anything like, beautiful art. Indeed, her images reflected the beauty of loving our own skin, bodies, hair and our flaws. In this body of work, Matheko is highlighting the transitions to womanhood and the policing of women’s sexuality expression by society. Her model, Nosisa also gives you the facial gestures that suggests the different phases of being and existing in a world that polices women’s bodies and how they are displayed in an artistic form. Matheko’s message was short and clear; “Black woman, own your sexuality”.

Sinethemba “Okima” Mthembu her work was of dual art where she had drawn images and photographed images all of which were conveying the same message. Okima identified her artistic talent to be for and about women empowerment. She started drawing as young as 12 years old as a way to speak out as a timid child growing up. Her images were filled with nuanced voices of demanding to be heard, seen and acknowledged. Okima themed her work; ‘Define the soul not the body’. Her reasons were direct and her message; “I wanted to unmask the faces we wear daily to hide the scars of society”.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Charmain Carrol was the final showing artist. Her work was displayed on a Plasma screen as a slideshow and not only did that make you want to view it, the message was just as important as the display. She first spoke about how she was happy to be showing her work in a township where exhibitions are not a norm. Carrol works with young people teaching creative arts in the Eastern Cape, where she grooms young artists in a rural area known as eNgqwara. Her selection for Makaziwe was much broader whereby she is highlighting issues of religion, spirituality, same sex love, fashion and death. Her view is that; “let her be known that we are here, Queering love and religion – fashion and art, let her be known she exists”.

 The show was a success, the messages from the images and the artists were as valuable as the time they took to create such intelligible and thought-provoking work. Dineo, Shirley and Collen really got something going with this concept. I love what they are doing as it was fun and educational. The space was perfect for that kind of content to be displayed in a township, where most of the hate crimes against Queer people happen, where violence against women and children is normalized. Where issues of body shaming, violence and consent never get discussed. They have decided to open Tembisa Arts Centre, which will continue highlighting the important issues highlighted in Makaziwe.

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Posted in 2012 ReFiguring Women, Against violence on women and children, Black Women in Media, Celebrating Women, Exhibition, Exhibition opening, Exhibitions, South African visual history through the eyes of young women, South African Women in the field of Arts & Culture, Uncategorized, Women in South African Arts, Women loving women, Women suffering, Women who have sex with Women, Women's Arts In South Africa (WAISA), Women's power, Women's Pride, Women's struggles, Women's Work, Young Black Women and Photography, young women, Young Women and Visual Activism | Leave a comment

2019 April. 11: An open lecture with Yithi Laba exhibitors

by Lindiwe Dhlamini

Photos by Lerato Dumse

It is exactly a month since the opening of the Yithi Laba exhibition at the Market Photo Workshop (MPW) from 28 Feb – 22 April. The showing artists; Neo Ntsoma, Lindeka Qampi, Honorary Professor and French Laurette honored Sir. Zanele Muholi and Ruth Motau hosted presentations to the students, fellow photographers and the public about their journey in photography in relation to 25 years of democracy.

Bernie Searle could not make it due to other commitments; her work remains an inspiration to many. The presentations took place at the MPW Auditorium, which was overflowing with other people sitting on the stairs. Although, there were technical glitches at the beginning, which led the event to start 30 minutes later, Velile Maureen Majola moderated the event very well. In the room there was also people from Gauteng TV who came to document the event and our very own Inkanyiso crew was present as usual with some of the participants from Faces and Phases, friends and family members of the presenting photographers.

Neo was the first speaker, the Vryburg born multi-award-winning photographer shared parts of her journey many of us did not know. The audience was impressed with the amount of work that Neo has shot over the years with the highlight being shooting inside the house of the revolutionary Mother Theresa. Neo’s journey started in 1992 at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) where she was met with a lot of difficulties, which led her not to complete her studies. She states, “I felt like I did not belong” Neo spoke about the racial and gender discrimination that was very visible. She would use her images to voice out those harsh realities she was facing then.


Neo further spoke about how she used photography as a tool “to show the beauty of the Black race”. However, her resilience was met with an expulsion for not wanting to conform to the white supremacist system which wanted to see Black images in debilitating conditions and nothing that empowers them. Neo states that her Yithi Laba selection was chosen to remind her of why she wanted to do photography in the first place. Her images of famous musicians who are still celebrated legends today are a true reflection of the beauty that we rarely saw on mainstream media in the 90’s and that is what Neo wanted to show the world.

Up next was the multi-talented Lindeka Qampi, a force to be reckoned with. A woman so powerful, humble, resilient, hardworking and talented. Lindeka has won a much deserved Mbokodo Award in 2015 and continues to break boundaries with her style of photography. Her use of trash as props and turning it into beauty, to resemble her struggles and achievements in life. Lindeka started photography in 2006 when she was 36-years-old and has since used it as a way to tell her story. Lindeka is a rape survivor who uses art to break the silence and to encourage others to do the same. In a poem she wrote titled; Inside my heart she verbalizes how the trauma forced her to hide her pain which destroyed her – “silence destroyed my inside body and my soul”.


Lindeka continues to be a role model for many survivors and the young people that she trains in the Photography Xperience workshops, teaching art and photography with Inkanyiso crew. Currently, she does self-portraits and uses the Land as a theme to tell the stories and to highlight the lack of housing and land for the poor in her community. Lindeka left the audience with these important words; “do not limit yourself, combine other forms of arts to tell your own story”.  

“A shutter button has no gender” these are the words uttered by the legendary multi-award, honorary Professor and French Laurette Sir Muholi who is the brains behind the Yithi Laba exhibition. Muholi’s work continues to challenge the norms of society and it has transformed even more with the recent works in Somnyama Ngonyama where the lens is on Muholi. All their projects seem to be a way of making noise without annoyance just an invitation of self-introspection for the viewer to interpret the work how they experience it.


Muholi’s selection for Yithi Laba centered Love as the message for the viewer yet, if you take a deeper look you see the variations of this love displayed in the images. Self-love, love of others, love of space and time. The contradictions force you to question how you see this work, to love it or not – it is there to be seen. Having shown in many countries Muholi has shared those spaces with fellow Queers, who would have never had the opportunity to travel abroad. Their presentation was nothing short of this love and expression of it through out. The message was simple it is all done in the name of LOVE – of photography, telling stories, self, family, friends, country, race, beauty and of course love of life. Muholi’s parting words remain; we must never wait for others to define who we are, who to love or how to love”.

 To close off the informative, fun and inspirational presentation session was none other than one of the first Black woman photographers in the country; Ruth Motau. Born and bred in Soweto, Meadowlands Ruth did not let where she came from limit her dreams. She has worked hard to earn a spot as one of the first mentees of the late David Goldblatt whom she honored during her presentation. Ruth is an MPW alumni for the class of 1993 and her work over the years has been reflective of the hard work she has put in.

Ruth’s selection for Yithi Laba is a journey of self-identity, spirituality and praise. In this body of work, she challenges the viewer to remember their own relations with spirituality and interrogates the modern-day religion. The way in which Ruth expresses and tells her story through the use of photography is relevant even though the images were taken over a decade ago. Her words of encouragement are testament to the latter; “whatever you do is a journey, always tell your own story.


By the time the Question and Answer session arrived most of the audience was anxious to ask questions and furnish words of love and support to the photographers. An interrogation of key issues of access and support for upcoming photographers were some of the issues raised. What stood out, was the possibility of a book by Black female photographers that can be used by Photography students in institutions of higher learning and hosting the South African Photography Festival were some of the suggestions made by the audience.

For those who have not seen the show or would like to bring friends and family, Yithi Laba is on show till 22 April 2019 following an extension.

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2019 April. 10: Alex Total Shutdown

Text by Maureen Velile Majola

Photo Album by Akhona Hailele

The residence of Alexandra Township

As per Wikipedia Alexandra Township was established in 1912 on land that was originally owned by a farmer, a Mr H.B. Pepenfus, who tried to establish a white residential township there, naming it after his wife Alexandra. However because it was (at that time) a considerable distance from the centre of Johannesburg, this was not a great success. Consequently, in 1912 Alexandra was proclaimed as a so-called “native township” because the township was proclaimed before the South African 1913 Land Act, it was one of the few urban areas in the country where black people could own land under a freehold title.

Alexandra is now 107 years old and the living conditions of its people keeps deteriorating. The township was built on 800 ha of land, which was designed to fit a population of about 70000 people. The township is over populated and it consists of informal settlements mostly. The houses and yards which were created at the beginning of Alexandra have since been covered by other structures that have emerged over the years.

107 years of Alexandra and 25 years of Democracy later, the residence of Alexandra took to the streets to protest against the City of Joburg for neglecting the community. They started demanding that the current Mayor Mr Herman Mashaba must come to Alex to address the community and hear their grievances. But the Mayor has not come to Alex or even made effort to listen to the community that he serves and that he promised two years ago that he was going to transform it.

The residence of Alex are angry at the City of Joburg for putting little to no effort into changing the township. There has been a great number of illegal mushroom structures that have been erected over the years and most of those structures are said to have been built by foreign nationals. A great number of elderly people in the community are still living in one roomed houses with their children, grandchildren and their great grandchildren. There is no privacy in the homes and a lot of the children are exposed to sexual behaviours at a young age because everything happens under 1 room and some children see their parents having sexual intercourse. The housing issue doesn’t just affect the home structure but it also affects how the child grows up and the things they get exposed to at a tender age.

The township’s pavements have since become nonexistant in most streets because people have built shacks or illegal houses on them, some houses are built on top of drainage systems and water pipes, which are now leaking with water on a daily basis. The city of Joburg has failed the community of Alex in more than one way. The new RDP houses that were built years ago are owned by foreign nationals who claim to have tittle deeds to the houses yet our own South African residence of the community are still waiting for houses, they are stuck with C forms that are not helping them with anything.

The community came together on the 5th of April at the Alex San Kopano Hall with hopes that Mayor Mashaba would show face and hear what the community had to say, but to their dismay he didn’t come and he didn’t even send an apology but instead he mocked the community members by taking to the streets of twitter and saying Alexandra Township is not his problem but that of the ANC government.

Residence were angered by the Mayor’s no show on Friday and they decided that they will march to the City of Joburg Regional offices in Sandton, that they will occupy Sandton and demand to be heard by the Mayor and for him to personally receive the community’s memorandum. The community gathered at Alexandra San Kopano on the 8th of April and started with their peaceful march to Sandton. The march moved from San Kopano 12th avenue to Joe Nhlanhla Street, where it turned at 9th Avenue and went to Selborne Street, proceeded straight towards Pan Africa on 1st Avenue. The community kept singing saying “siyongena sigijima esandton, hayi uMashaba uyasaba” and “10km into encane, 10 km into encane” as they marched towards Arkwright Avenue in Wynberg.

Thembani Manana, a young woman from Alex stood on top of a tyre and addressed the community as we were marching. She told them that they must not push through the pipe line and to make sure that we don’t leave anyone behind as we need to all arrive in Sandton as one community. Thembani in our interview with her emphasised that this was not a political march but this was a march by the community of Alex trying to get the attention of the Mayor and that we should look at all the factors that are affecting our community. Thembani was amongst the leaders and organisers of the protest.

The march proceeded towards Grayston Drive in Sandton, the entire Grayston intersection was closed off. For the first time in years the residence of Alexandra closed off the big road that goes to the big square mile of South Africa that generates billions of Rands for the country. The JMPD commander Spires, instructed the masses that they were not allowed to take tyres into Sandton, they cannot burn anything there. This was confusing as they were allowed to carry tyres in Alex, this showed how different the two areas are, this said a lot to me as a young person who grew up in Alexandra because I got to understand the power dynamics of the community and Sandton.

The march proceeded to the City of Joburg offices where we waited for hours to speak to the Mayor but he never came. Outside the CoJ’s office the community gathered singing and chanting for Mashaba to come and address them. We spoke to a group of women who expressed that this march is important for the community of Alexandra and the Mayor and his office must stop trying to make it seem as though the march is one of the political party’s propaganda but the Mayor must come and face the community of Alexandra and listen to their plea.

We spoke to mam Dikeledi Ntsimane who told us that she was in the struggle and her left eye was shot with rubber bullet. She expressed that even after everything she went through she still stays in a one room house, stuck with a C form that was issued to her by the department of housing but she still has no house. She expressed how painful it is to see some of the community members who’ve been waiting for houses have passed on without receiving their houses and how foreign nationals have houses yet they don’t have them. She told us that she wishes that Meyer Mashaba could come and listen to their grievances.

Mayor Herman Mashaba sent his City Manager to speak to the community of Alexandra and address them, but councillor Marema informed the city manager that he will not address the people of Alex as they are not there for him but for the Mayor. He was told if the Mayor fails to come and address the community then they will call on the President of South Africa to come to Alexandra on Thursday the 11th of April 2019. The memorandum was not handed over to anyone and the community made its way back to Alexandra Township in a peaceful march. When the march reached Pan Africa in Alex, the police started to open fire and they shot at a few woman saying they were vandalising and kicking tomatoes. But to my surprise the tomatoes were there even in the morning when we passed there. By this time Pan Africa had almost 30 police cars and vans that were making their way into the community saying they need to make sure that they don’t close the roads or strike again.

Mayor Mashaba truly disappointed the community of Alexandra by not showing up, now we wait for the President to come and address the community.

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Posted in 25 Years of Democracy, Akhona Hailele, Alexandra, Bringing photography to the community, Community, Community based media, Community education, Community Mobilizing, Community outreach, Community Police Forum (CPF), Community visit, Community work, Documentation; Filming; Photography; Community, March, Marches, Maureen Velile Majola, Respect & Recognition from our community, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

2019 April. 10: The pain of losing Miss Tee Menu

Tributes continue to pour in for Miss Tee Menu, a gentle soul who was known and loved by many. The community of Daveyton, a Township located on the east of Johannesburg  and the LGBTI community in different parts of South Africa were shocked to learn of the passing of this 24-year-old on Sunday morning.

Ms Tee Menu post

Miss Tee Menu, Parktown 2014 and Miss Tee Menu, Daveyton, Johannesburg, 2017 © Zanele Muholi

Menu, a Brave Beauties participant was a hairstylist and designer, she worked with her mother to design dresses that she usually wore at beauty pageants. Menu entered her first pageant Miss Gay Daveyton 2013 and is the former Miss Gay Jozi 2014 Queen.

Brave Beauties participants and photographer (from back left: Lesiba Mothibe, Miss Tee Menu, Ntsantsa, Kim Monoto, Roxy Msizi, Yaya Mavundla and Prof. Zanele Muholi. Pic by Lerato Dumse

The tragic news of Menu losing her life in a car accident started circulating Sunday morning. Many family, friends, colleagues and community members have taken to social media to share memories and mourn their beloved Miss Tee.

A memorial service has been set for Thursday April 11 at Miss Tee’s home 3537 Mina Nawe Phase 1, Daveyton 5-8pm.

Previous titles include:
 Miss Gay Daveyton Photogenic 2013, 
 Miss Uthingo 2013,                                                                                                                                 Miss Simply Blue 2013
2nd Princess, Miss Gay Soweto 2013 
2nd Princess, Miss Valentine 2014 
1st Princess, Miss Valentine 2014 – Miss Personality, 
Miss Gay Queen of Queens 2014 
Miss Gay Jozi 2014.

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Posted in Bastille Day photos by Zanele Muholi, Brave Beauties, Brave Beauties participants, Daveyton, Daveyton Ekurhuleni Municipality., Daveyton township, Daveyton Uthingo, Death, Death tore us apart, First transwoman from Daveyton to win Miss Gay Jozi, From Daveyton township with love, Miss & Mr Gay Daveyton 2014, MissTee Menu, My name is Zanele Muholi, Thabo Menu, Uncategorized, Winner: Miss Tee Menu from Daveyton | Leave a comment

2019 April 5 “I am Winnie Mandela” concert

Text by Velile Maureen Majola

Photos by Akhona Hailele

It’s the 4th of April 2019; I woke up feeling excited about attending the concert. We left the house and made our way to Constitution Hill where the concert was held at the Women’s Jail. This is the same place where women in the struggle where jailed, ill-treated, threatened and tortured; yet here we are two decades post democracy, celebrating our Mother Winnie Mandela with a beautiful concert that consists mostly of women. This concert is happening on a Thursday evening, now Thursday is a day in which a lot of women gather for prayer (umthandazo womama) and many others attend ladies nights.

The concert started with a series of images of our late mama Nomzamo Winnie Madikizela Mandela, which were shown on the screens. The images were of uMama in the struggle; police confrontation, her children, Mam Winnie and her then husband Nelson Mandela. These images gave us a clear indication that uMama suffered a lot under the apartheid government and yet she still loved and cared for her children. The images showed us the Power of a woman who makes sacrifices.

Rorisang Thandekiso who was the M.C. for the day spoke about the importance of wearing iduku (head wrap), that as African women iduku is a sign of respect and honour. We were requested to have a moment of silence and in our silence we needed to think about the change we want to make in our communities, country and the world, to think about our impact in society. This really got me thinking about my own contribution to my community and what I could do that will have a positive impact in my community.

We enjoyed an open mic session that was opened by Zulu Boy, who reminded us that we are Black and we should be proud of who we are. He then sang a song from the struggle that reminded us that our ancestors died for this freedom that we enjoying today. Right after him we heard from a woman called Maritjie who is white but considers herself as a black woman because she resonates. She shared a glimpse of her story and highlighted that her own race didn’t take care of her when she was on the streets but it was the black race that took her in and gave her a sense of belonging. She spoke about doing away with segregation in our spaces and finding a way to work together as women without looking at race.

We enjoyed music from Morena the Squire, he sang a song dedicated to women, mothers and all those who’ve made sacrifices for their families. In this melody he was speaking of all the sacrifices women make daily and saying how he appreciates everything women do. He then made us dance with his dance song saying ngihlanyiswa wuwe (I’m driven crazy by you).

Shortly after his performance Rori announced that Buhlebendalo was about to come on stage, the crowd got really excited and shouted with joy. Buhlebendalo walked in chanting welele welelele carrying a metal cup that reminded me of my grandparents’ home. She then appraised her ancestors as a sign of respect since she is a traditional healer and needs to acknowledge their presence in the space. She sang a song saying lalela abantwana and another that says uNomzamo uwanyisile amabhunu uNomzamo we could just see her ewanyisa amabhunu during the struggle. Her strength and endurance is proof that indeed ubanyisile. She then sang a song that says ‘’Ndingu Nolwazi, Sphokazi, Mandlakazi, Thembakazi” she spoke of how we can speak for ourselves as women, how we can ask if we need help and how we are capable of doing things for ourselves. She then saluted Mam Nomzamo with a song and did a cover from South Africa’s most talented singer, the late Brenda Fassie titled Too late for Mama. With this song she had us all feeling really emotional and remembering how women are killed on a daily basis and how they struggle to fend for their families daily.

Busiswa then came on stage and called on all the queens and saluted them. She proceeded to say “If we can learn anything from the legacy kamam Winnie is that if uyistarring you must be a starring.” She brought the house down chanting she’s alive, she didn’t die, she multiplied, we danced and did the vosho dance with her in celebration that indeed Mam Winnie dint die but she multiplied in us all.

Berita took to the stage singing thandaza mpefumlo wam, siphinde sidibane. The song moved us deeply and sent us to a new trans that made us think about our departure and what would happen to our souls, if we’ll meet on the other side or not.  She did a Neria cover by Oliver Mutukudzi. She moved our spirits, we remembered all the fallen music heroes who didn’t just give us music but gave us soul.

Wanda Baloyi (African cocktail) sang “Ngiyekeleni ngihambe, ngibuyele ekhaya, sengikhathele, ayikho into engiyihlalele lapha. Baba ngthi wee thathi inkomo zakho, uyithathe la oyibeke khona, sengikhathele, ngibuyele ekhaya” This song evoked a lot of emotions from within, thinking that at times when Lobola has been paid a man starts to think he owns you and you are his property. She sang about how we must do away with that culture in not so many words.

The legendary Candy sang xhiloyini wani tsikelela moradzuwa. Impilo ifana nevili, namhlanje yimi kusasa nguwe. She invited Nonidee from Nigeria to join her on stage and sang together. Nonidee sang his new single called fix me. Dj Olwe took to the desk and made us shake what our momma gave us. We danced and laughed as he played. His movements and actions just told you how much he enjoys doing what he is doing.

Zoe came in with her soulful, spirit filled sounds. She sang about Mama Winnie and had us all sitting on the floor of Con Hill Women’s Jail. It was right after midnight and we could feel the spirit of mama Nomzamo coming alive through Zoe. Haibo wavuka owesfazane ngengoma. She sang siyolobola ngani iinkomo zobaba zemuka nomoya, she rendered it so well that she had us all singing along. She has soul in her singing. Her song I’m not alone reminded me that I am not alone, but I have angels surrounding me day and night.

This was not just a musical concert but this was the second coming of Mam Winnie. This was her rebirth and she has indeed multiplied in the spirit and souls of young and old women in South African and beyond. Her/Story is the foundation of a new type of women in our times, the type that says we will not look down but we will empower and encourage one another in our different capabilities. Oh our Mother lives, she is alive in us all and we too have the power that she possessed, the power that drove her and directed her to becoming one of the most prominent women in the world.


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