2017 July 4: Tumi’s Foundation in photography

by Tumi Nkopane

The 11th of January 2017 was my first day studying a Foundation Course (FC) in photography at the Market Photo Workshop (MPW) in Newtown, Johannesburg. The opportunity to study was granted to me by Zanele Muholi who is my mentor. It had been too long without studying full-time but I couldn’t wait to meet new people who also wanted to pursue their careers in photography but in different genres understandably.

Everyone was welcoming especially the staff, as they made each student feel at home and we were the first Foundation Course students of 2017 to attend classes in the newly built building in Newtown and the building looked stunning.

I am very fortunate to have received this opportunity to study photography in one of the best photography institutions in South Africa, and of course an institution that taught some of our well known photographers such as Sabelo Mlangeni, Thabiso Sekgala, Musa Nxumalo, Nontsikelelo Veleko, Lebohang Khanye, Zanele Muholi, and many  more. I would also like to be one of the best photographers who have been groomed by the Market Photo Workshop.

Photography seemed easy at first but as time went by and we were introduced to new new techniques daily which became challenging. I am glad that I had to study photography because at first I didn’t know the advanced techniques that were introduced to us in the course; I had only been introduced to basics of using a camera by Zanele Muholi when we did PhotoXP 2016 in KwaThema.


2016 May 9 PhotoXP participants with LQ & Muholi by LD_5287
          Members of the 2016 PhotoXP KwaThema during one of our photo sessions.                From Left – Right: Lebo Mashifane, Maphike Rafedile, Tumi Nkopane, Luyanda Mthembu, Khanyi Mtungwa with project co-facilitators Zanele Muholi & Lindeka Qampi.                                      (c) Photo by Lerato Dumse (2016)


2016 May 14 Thembi & Theo _ Boom Shaka by Tumi Nkopane_0383

Thembi Seete and Theo Nhlengethwa of the defunct Boom Shaka performing at the Not Yet Free Concert at Bassline, Johannesburg.  Photo by Tumi Nkopane (2016)


On the 8th Feb 2017 there was an Exhibition of a former student Phumzile Khanyile who had been awarded the Tierney Fellowship that took place at the school Gallery   since she was also a student at the MPW. It was inspiring to see a young black female having to share her body of work featuring her own personal touch to it.  As an artist you’ll have your own analysis or interpretations of each image or the whole body of work. I didn’t know that but because of the Market Photo Workshop I was able to do that.

We were given a brief for photographic assignments every Monday and we had to present our work and be critiqued by professionals. It was scary at first but we all got used to the crit. sessions and they were helpful to students.  That experience helped us to improve our technical knowledge of a camera and editing images.
The part I enjoyed the most in all the sessions was when we watched a documentary of a photographer Sally Mann which  particular genre like one of the greatest photographers, . Even though some of my classmates would be bored and complain about watching one and the same thing every now and then not knowing that it’s for our benefit at the end of the day. Before studying at MPW I didn’t know about South African photographers and I had not seen their work. Studying at the MPW made me enjoy my studies, even though I was unfortunately distracted and had to be pulled out of the course because of the accident I was involved in while going to school on the 13th February 2017. At that time I was assigned to do my Home and Portrait series critique which happened on that day. However, I wasn’t badly injured, I had sustained some injuries and I still went to school and reported the incident, and I was advised to go home and be back whenever I was feeling better.
I went back after few days thinking I was fine but I was not coping very well so the management told me to stay at home and come back in June to complete the course with the 3rd FC group because I’ll be fully recovered physically by then. I stayed at home but still continued taking pictures as it was therapeutic and it helped with my recovery.

On the 12th June 2017 I returned to school and it was difficult for me because of the (painful shoulder) side effects sustained from injury.  This time I managed to do very well at school.  My brochure was selected as the best one because of the choice of place or location and the way it was neat and technically edited.

The final assessment presentation was on the 6th and 7th July 2017, the atmosphere was so warm and we were working as a team for the last time, some members of the group were panicking thinking they won’t make it to Intermediate Course. It was nerve wrecking because I had to present my 24 Summative portfolios, surprisingly things went well even though the questions were tricky.

I really enjoyed studying the Foundation Course and I am proud to have managed to finish the course in 8 weeks, it was no child’s play, and we had to submit assignments after another. It was a valuable experience and I am honoured to have been a part of it.

I’d like to see myself achieving a lot in the future, especially in photography and I am grateful to have a mentor like Muholi, a person who encourages black women to work hard and make things happen.


Previous by Tumi

2016 Oct. 10:  VMCI Annual Conference


Related links
2016 May 17:  Launching Kwa-Thema PhotoXP


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2017 July 5: Phila’s reflection

Let’s start at the beginning, when you just want to take leave from work because everything becomes too technical and demanding, answering phones and dealing with a piles of paperwork and nonconformity of products. there’s just one call that comes through and changes everything.

When you get Zanele Muholi, calling letting you know, that you are up for her Stedelijk Museum exhibition. Making history because this is groundbreaking as they had never had a black lesbian showcasing other black people.

I was shaken, nearly fell off the chair with excitement. Fast forward, nothing shook me up as the schengen visa application process.
It’s not child’s play, Collected all my paperwork and I first checked the Rand to Euro stats to pay less for my visa, as the fee is 60 euros which sums up to R945. I made and cancelled my appointment according to the forex rate. I some how took it lightly. I had done everything and waited. lady luck fell in love with me because my visa was approved and this woman was ready to shop

The piece I am going to perform was already sealed and done. Written to perfection, it had always brought tears to my eyes everyone I would recite it to me.

1st July 2017, Start of the flights. I had everything planned out, from the packing to the time I landed in Amsterdam. I packed my suitcase and closed it the night before but in all things I had to do I forgot the key combination. One of my blonde moments hit me. I tried cracking the code like in the movies with no luck, finally broke the lock and bought a normal only to find out it does not fit.

My sisters dropped me off at the bus station at 11pm to catch the 23:30pm bus. When I got to Johannesburg Park Station got on the Gautrain, found my way around in the morning and familiarized myself with airport procedures. When my cousin came through, I got to explore the OR International Airport and catch up.

I boarded my plane and sat and watched movies and ate, plane food is not that nice and I’m a black person I need space so lay out my food, I had to use the space I was given. Dozing off after a couple of hours, During take off and landing i played The Weeknd’s Starboy, i was turnt up.

Landing in Amsterdam

When i landed, Lerato was waiting for me at the airport, I became relaxed and was used to the ins and outs of check ins and airport processes.

Boom! Shock of my life, Passport Control besides the annoying spiral lines. I was taken to Immigration. When you watch Border Patrol like I do, you would know that once you are taken there you are in trouble. I was quite relaxed. They didn’t ask me much. Just kept me there for 3 hours. They call Stedelijk Museum to confirm my invitation after it was all smiles and I was free to go. Finally.

Got onto the train to Amsterdam Central then we took the tram to the place we are residing at for the days we are in Amsterdam. “So many white people in one area!” I said to myself, Bikes everywhere, mode of Amsterdam transportation. Fascinating Architecture, Reminded me of Pietermaritzburg.

It will be a long time before I get homesick.


2017 Sept. 7 Phila Mbanjwa _ SM _ Amsterdam _3675bb

Phila gave a moving performance at Stedelijk Museum alongside Annalyzer.        Photo by Else L.G Krebbers. (2017/07/07)



Previous by Phila


2015 Nov. 25: My words are the ink in my blood



2013 March 10:  “I love women and they love me”



Posted in Amsterdam, Black Queer Talent, From South Africa to Holland, Phila's reflection, Stedelijk Museum, Uncategorized, Visa application process | Leave a comment

2017 July 23: UniQ interview with Le Sishi

By Sandy Nene



Le Sishi sm, Parktown, Johannesburg, 2014 - 2875

                                  From Umlazi To The World, Former Miss Gay Durban Le Sishi.                                            Photos by Zanele Muholi (Brave Beauties) series

Where did you grow up?

I was born, bred and buttered in the beautiful township of Umlazi (laughs).

What was your childhood like?

My childhood wasn’t that bad, my parents supported me emotionally, I had friends and siblings who wouldn’t make me feel otherwise. It was a fun and colourful childhood. I played with more girls than boys.

When did you discover your sexuality and was it easy accepting yourself?

At Grade 8, that’s when I started wearing women’s underwear. I changed my clothes to be more feminine, I would cut old pair of jeans and make them shorts – that’s when I started accepting who I really am and was willing to discover my sexuality as I grow.

Which schools did you go to?

I attended a primary school in MereBank and Naleni High School in Umlazi.

Did you come across through any discrimination while still schooling, especially high school?

They will always be negative comments towards homosexuals, but one needs to accept themselves, it has helped with me living my life to the fullest. If one is going to live their life the way other people want them, they will never be happy.

And the community you grew up in, was have they been treating you?

The community I grew up in is the same one that I am currently staying in. They have always questioned why am I too feminine compared to other homosexuals they knew but they accept me as a trans woman and I appreciate it.

How many siblings do you have and describe the type of relationship you have with them?

Yes I do have siblings, 2 brothers and 3 sisters, in total there is 6 of us. I have an amazing relationship with them, I am blessed to have them – they support every decision I make and I always consult with them whenever I am not sure about something.

What is your opinion on parents who don’t accept their homosexual children?

This reminds me how blessed I am to have the supportive family that allows me to be. I never understand why families never accept homosexuals, I mean, I’m a Preacher’s Kid – but have never felt any form of discrimination from my father or anyone in the family for that matter. At the end of the day, whether you accept your child or not, they were born like that, there is nothing you can do.

What’s keeping you busy and where can people spot you hanging out, having a great time with friends or having lunch?

I am involved with a lot of projects, I work for the Durban Gay & Lesbian Centre and I am very much involved in curating Gay pageants, drag shows etc for the LGBTI community.

NB: Please note that this article was first published in UniQ Magazine.


2013 Dec. 29 Candice with Le & Mini @ Durban South Beach_9449

From L-R: Mini, Candice and Le at Durban South Beach in Dec. 2013




Related links

2014 Aug. 8:  To be honest I love how I look




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2017 July 22: LGBTI Leadership & Career Expo

Text by Yaya Mavundla 


It is Saturday the 22nd of July 2017, Constitution Hill and Koketso Rathumbu hosted a group of LGBTI individuals from townships and the surroundings of Gauteng to change stereotypes of LGBTI people & careers, expose them to individuals who will inspire and help them to make right career choices.

The expo featured different speakers from different organizations and so on. Some of the speakers at the event were, Nolubabalo Memese from Constitution Hill who gave a presentation on Bill of Rights. Immediately she was followed by the founder of Four

Fellows, who is an entrepreneur, blogger and communications strategists who advised attendees why it is to be an entrepreneur and good career choice, who can be an entrepreneur and how does it really work.
2017 July 22 Koketso talking to Youth @LGBTI Career Expo_4695

Koketso addressing youth at the career workshop. Photos by Lizzy Muholi (22/07/2017).

Most of the youth in attendance really didn’t seem interested. There was a lot of destruction during the workshop which really affected the presentations. Those who were supposed to be attentive workshop participants which probably cost a lot of money and time to organise were making noise and basically doing their own things showing no interest at all. With that behaviour, the organiser, Koketso Rathumbu who also happened to be the programme director asked if should we call it a day because people were very unruly. Showing no respect to the presenters.
2017 July 22 Doreen @ LGBTI Career Expo_4677
Luckily the workshop carried on with presenters from DHET – HEAIDS, Foundation for Professional Development GALA, Umrebo, Afro Designs, Gr8ter, Anova, SAAYC to name a few and Sunday Sun which was represented by Doreen MolefeLerato Matsoso.  Lerato shared a very inspiring story about how she followed her dreams to be a journalist even though her family was against it. Today she is an entertainment editor for both Sunday Sun & Sunday World, and her father is super proud. Even when her first article was published her dad framed it at their home.
The last speaker, Nozipho Makhado from the Department of Economic Development  invited 50 LGBTI individuals to participate in a script writing workshop to take place in Hammaskraal.  Those who have interest in the field can be contact her on e-mail at nozipho.makhado@gauteng.gov.za . She also extended the invitation to all LGBTI individuals to come showcase their work at the Gauteng Carnival on the 24th of September 2017.

The workshop happened and a lot information was shared and for those who were there to learn definitely gained something, and those who were there to pass time really wasted resources meant for the needy youth.

2017 July 22 LGBTI Career Expo
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2017 July 12: Enraged by Amsterdam attack

8 July 2017, Amsterdam.
 I’m feeling so enraged by the incident captured on video and the wrong information that is circulating in various media platforms who have not even received feedback from the witnesses.


These are the facts:

On Saturday 8 July, four crew members – young South Africans in their twenties – were due to check out of the Airbnb booked on our behalf by Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, who were our host.

They are participants in my photography and joined me in Amsterdam to write and perform at the opening of my exhibition, which was unveiled at Stedelijk Museum on Friday, 7th July 2017.

They also work with me as I continue with the media activism of Inkanyiso internationally.

Although they requested a late check-out, the owner was banging on the door demanding that they leave immediately. As they packed their belongings, he persisted unreasonably – shouting and acting aggressively. He first threw the belongings of the guests down the stairs whilst still shouting, and then forcibly pushed Sibahle Nkumbi down a steep flight of stairs face first.

As the encounter unfolded, videos were captured before Sibahle was pushed. The video with Sibahle has been released first on Facebook and then on Instagram to general outrage from our wider community.

In the video, you could hear Sibahle calmly asking the Airbnb owner ‘Why are you emotional?’ The encounter/incident culminates with Sibahle Nkumbi being pushed forcefully and falling, landing on her face at the bottom of the steep staircase where she lay unconscious. She sustained internal injuries and visible bruises, and ended up in hospital. We are waiting for a full medical report.

The attack happened when we were meant to bid farewell to each other and the Netherlands after a great opening at Stedelijk Museum. Each of us had to depart from Amsterdam that afternoon with travel booked and confirmed.  Instead, it ended in tears, trauma and hospital admission for one of the youth.

The physical brutality and verbal abuse that my friends experienced at the hands of an older white male, much taller and stronger than the four youth who rebuked them in Dutch and bits of English, was aggressive and traumatising.

By watching the video, it is clear that the Airbnb owner wanted the guests out of the apartment with immediate effect even when they pleaded to gather their belongings. The force he projected leaves no doubt about his intention to remove them, by any means necessary including force.

Another member from the top of the staircase captured the incident.

We thank God she is out of the hospital and taken care of. It will take sometime for healing and further check-ups will be needed and we hope for a full recovery. Witnesses and the survivor will need counselling to deal with this traumatic experience.

The incident made me so angry, numb, frustrated and emotionally bruised. The booked accommodation was meant to be a space of safety, and yet a young person was nearly killed.
A person who couldn’t defend herself physically against an older white male who violated her.
The questions I am stuck with:

Would the Airbnb owner have reacted the same way if it was a white female of Dutch descent?

Was he going to do the same if he were dealing with another man?

For me it is clear that this was an act of gender-based racist violence – a tall white man aggressively pushing a black female he perceived as lesser than himself, no different perhaps than the bags he first threw down the stairs.

From what has been relayed to me by my crew members, the attacker shouted ‘This is not Africa’ and ‘You are not the great artist that you fucking think you are… you are not the queen.’
This leads me to question whether he was being motivated by racism, sexism and xenophobia.

Visual Activist/ Inkanyiso.org
South Africa




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2017 June 24: Humanity reigns in our society

Text by Tinashe Wakapila
Photos by 2017 PhotoXP photographers

Durban Pride 2017 was a vibrant situation led by a statement making ideology. Gugu Dlamini Park located at Workshop Shopping Center was the venue chosen for this year. Pride started   with prayers from my very own pastor, Apostle Zinzi Zungu of VMCI. There were memorials of powerful activists in the LGBTI sector who have passed away. This gave a feel of togetherness and underground depth of where we come from as a society and true meaning of the movement.




As I walked towards Pride gates following the beautiful and inspiring march, I saw a group of men and women making fun of this beautiful lady (I believe she is trans). At that moment it clicked to me that phobias of gender and sexuality are still there and many people have not embraced that are fluid.


This is why Pride march must happen in public spaces including townships, market places and populated places. Pride kicked off in style and all the stalls where lit. Motivational speakers were very deep and life healing. An interesting pair that I met was two queers from Pretoria who had their table of T-shirts in the stalls. They print themselves; they own the business. This showed that there is a lifeline of entrepreneurship in our society, which needs us to support each other. The next stall I attended was the Gay and Lesbian Network table which came all the way from Pietermaritzburg. They had assorted protection for sexual intercourse and the distributors were ready to share information regarding the how’s and when’s to use it. Health tables were filled up and it was brilliant knowing that healthcare matters in the society.



The next interesting show that had significance was the modeling session with the young people embracing their bodies and parading. Looking into this event I can proudly say Pride played its part and really made a statement in the different capabilities of how humanity reigns in our society.
Later there where different after parties. I attended the one at Urban Lounge, because the DJs that were taking the floor are from the LGBTI society.



My wrap up about Pride this year is an explosion of humanity. It showed how much lgbti people participate in each sector of the bigger society from arts to health, entrepreneurship to religion. Last but never the least, family from Faces and Phases series and 2017 PhotoXP project (Gauteng) came all the way to document Pride. We came together as an extended family with KwaZulu Natal participants. Taking over the space with cameras and capturing the moments through photography and me with my commentary writing. I say hats off Inkanyiso!
Yithi Laba!



Previous article by Tinashe

2016 June 10: Contains Explicit content for good knowledge Aluta Continua




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2017 April 27: 23 Years of ‘Freedom’

“The prospect of being given a second chance after 1994 is rather intricate, I say to you now; I am the change I want to see in South Africa. As much as I was once left bruised, violated, lied to, cheated on, disappointed and oppressed! I rose above and beyond the Government and their politics” S. Nkumbi

April 27th, the day we call Freedom Day as South Africans.
What is Freedom?
In my own terms I am struggling to decipher the term. Thoughts are running wild and my being is being washed by mixed emotions. Today is the 27th of April 2017,  I know that black South Africans voted for the first time in 1994. Our parents and grandparents  who experienced the apartheid regime first hand, had hope in their eyes for better days. That sent assumptions that they were free and we ended up calling this day Freedom Day. I am going through mental turmoil trying to figure out how free is the Mother Land?
When will the Fees Fall?
What is happening with our Government?
Knowing the state of my country at this very moment my Heart is bleeding.

Allow me to share my own personal feelings towards this day, I feel nothing!
The more things change, the more they stay the same and in this case they have gotten worse. I was only 4 years old when this day was marked as “Freedom Day”, I have  memories of Mother looking hopeful that things would change even though she still had to wake up in the crack of dawn and had to hustle for her young ones. With that said, the day left a bitter taste in my mouth. No doubt things got better as the years progressed. What still puzzles me even to this day is that blood had to be shed to get to where we are now and all we got as a consolation prize is making this day a public holiday. As we grow wiser we realize what matters and choose to see the good in things. This is our History and celebrating it makes sense considering where the country was before 1994. When I asked fellow South Africans what does this day mean to them, my question was beautifully answered by Cathy Winter, “A day celebrating shackles thrown off and of naming shackles that need to be unbound, still.”

So here I am 23-years later with this pen in my hand writing this! It filled my being with Joy when I realised that When I wrote a poem titled Color of Freedom back in 2013 I was being prepared by my Ancestors for this very moment. I take pride in knowing that the youth of South Africa is rising, taking matters into their own hands for the betterment of the Nation. We know we are powerful beyond measure, which gives me hope that the next generation will continue building from the strong concrete premise that we have created for them. Leaving your homeland is not easy, far from it. However, because we are dreamers with a cause, we do it without a single bone of doubt in our bodies. Knowing that the drums shall be beaten when we come back to the Promised Land, the Motherland.

I am in a foreign country, I have left loved ones behind, risked being misunderstood out of my comfort zone but then again; nothing grows in your comfort zone. We are all meant for greater things. I have met a lot of fellow South Africans along the way in different stages of their lives, who know deep in their gut that we can only be the change we want to see. With our communities in our Hearts even the sky is not the limit, if it means going to the moon and back in order to see change in the Motherland then that is what will be done. In inference, freedom is a color of a beautiful rainbow nation and is expressed by each and every individual in their own terms. These words are engraved in my heart and it is how I express freedom in my own terms “Peace is not something we awake and claim to have; it is lived, felt, abused, denied and then expressed in a manner better than before simply because we know better now” Nkumbi.

I met a gentleman in Switzerland by the name of  Mandisi Sindo, all the way from Khayelitsha in Cape Town a true visionary full of determination and wisdom. He is a Creative Art Director at Makukhanye Art Room and an Artistic Director to mention a few. Close to his heart are the words of Fanon, “What matters now is not to know the world but to change the world”. Indeed he took Khayelitsha out of SA. His mission is to heal Souls through Art. Our children will grow to know that they can be who they were meant to be without any doubt. Art is an integral part of who we are as beings, it is where we find bits and pieces of ourselves and expressing it in a manner where we know and feel that we have reached the highest parts of our beings.


Mandisi SindoMandisi Sindo

I then reconnected with a Woman by the name of Sandy Zigana who is currently living in Turkey and this is what she had to say about freedom in her own terms, “Being in Turkey has taught me a lot of things about myself and the Muslim religion. I have come to understand that there is not only one God but rather categorised in different ways,” she says.
Sandy goes on to tell me in her own words that she believes that the world begins with the children. “Growing up I was never one of the brightest students, I took liberty of understanding and inspiring those that are living in my very own shoes,” adds Sandy. This is how her path began and led her to where she is now. Sandy is an English kindergarten teacher;  she strongly believes that is where the future begins. She will bring back to SA wealth in terms of Spirituality and love. She aims to empower the young ones to go for their dreams. Her values are honesty, respect, love and humanity, a true African. In the end she says, “It is my passion to impact people with education, teaching makes me happy, it is a reward on its own, knowledge of self is true wisdom”. Sharing that wisdom with the Kings and Queens of tomorrow is priceless.

Lastly, I crossed paths with a young a gentleman by the Name of Sisa Ntshwaqela one of the founders of Dine with Khayelitsha In Switzerland. Dine with Khayelitsha started in April 2015, when I asked him why Dine? Sisa said, “We started Dine as a business so that we can be able to generate money and use it to sustain our early childhood development program.” It is an NPO called Have Fun and it started in 2014.


Sisa Ntshwaqela
Sisa Ntshwaqela

He proceeded to say, “ Dine is also meant to bridge a gap between cities and townships and bring change in South Africa”. Conversations are shared over nice meals, a space where people connect and network. His roles at Dine is facilitating the conversations, organising spaces and being an MC during events. Dine is a goldmine of knowledge anyone who has ever been to the events knows the feeling of togetherness plus the spirit of Ubuntu.

In inference, Freedom is when you know that the power to change what is not serving self and the people well is inside you. It begins with the person in the mirror, all it takes is one step and with passion, determination and hard work nothing is impossible. Doing good with no desire of recognition is not only integrity but true freedom. Young people doing it for themselves, growing and uniting the nation. The time is now! Freedom is not Colored, Black or White. It is power of being able to stand firm and fulfil your destiny, the only way you and your ancestors know how. With all that said, witnessing the youth doing big things for themselves and the people leaves me consoled. That is freedom in my own terms.

Previous by Siba

Dreams do come true

Posted in Activists Act, Africans Abroad, Alternative family, Another Approach Is Possible, Articles, Beautiful people, Being heard, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment