2017 Sept. 11: I cannot make you see a woman

I try to run away from these broad shoulders that make it difficult for me to put on these dresses that I so love to wear. They are not made for me. They are not constructed for this man’s body. I try to cover the bulge in between my thighs, but whenever I suppress it in my tight jeans, it only brings me pain. I wear chokers to try to express the woman in me, however, my Adam’s apple pushes it away, giving me a taste of death by making it hard for me to breathe and swallow.

I wake up and look at myself in the mirror. I am in disbelief at seeing this body naked, I go closer to the mirror looking deeply into this body. As I get closer, it eats away the rest of my body. As I get closer my body disappears, I can now only see my face. Looking deeply at the reflection of my face, I experience a bit of relief as I see hints of femininity. I recognise the little thorns that stab my fingertips as they get closer to my chin. I apprehensively wash my chin, I then take the razor, and allow the small blades to run over these hair particles like the brutal bulldozers that ran over the District Six houses in the Cape, wiping away their existence.

Looking down, I search for my foundation, trying to make myself look lighter, for light skin is associated with beauty. Light skin is associated with femininity. From a young age, they lied to me and taught me to hate myself. They taught me blackness is “either/or, not both”. Blackness is being African. Blackness is being straight. Blackness is possessing conservative masculine ideals. Blackness does not consist of queerness.  Blackness is an implicit reminder that I cannot be Trans. If I am Trans, then I cannot be African, black or Xhosa. It is a reminder that I cannot be a woman for I am in this black man’s body. I cannot make you see the woman in me. I cannot make you see a woman because I live in a man’s body. I live in a black man’s body.

I have tried numerous times to kill this body; however, it has mastered the needs of my soul. This body has captured and imprisoned my feminine spirit. Twenty-seven years of imprisonment fighting for freedom does not begin to capture the twenty years of being imprisoned not only by society but by your own body. The kind of emancipation I long for is not only to be free from society but to be free from this foreign oppressive body. If I take its life away, it threatens to take away the beauty that is within me. I cannot allow it to.

I have to allow this body to live, for my spirit lives in it. However, I must quickly find a way to rescue myself from this body. I have tried to unify this body with my beautiful soul, however, it is silently suffocating me. I need to rescue myself from myself. I do not know how. Or maybe I should rather put this beautiful spirit to sleep, for she is already dying because of this oppressive body and society she lives in.

This body confuses me. This man’s body brings me agony instead of offering me the privilege that society and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said it would. It constantly reminds me that I cannot be a woman. The most I can be, is a gay man, for society tells me so. When this body goes into society it is misgendered. This body is forced to go into rooms that are historically constructed for men. It is institutionally oppressed and forced to decide if it is a man or a woman when in need of the bathroom. When it goes into women’s bathroom, even though it is a woman, it experiences transphobia and judgement. Left with no choice but to conform, it listens to its biological features and misgenders itself as it is forced to enter the male lavatory, confronted by urinals for the sake of maintaining peace in society. This body lives in an oppressive residence that refuses to acknowledge that it is not a gentleman, but rather a gentlewoman. Suggesting gender neutral names keep all happy, Even that they do not understand.

I set myself on fire to keep society warm.
I have always treated society like they are the victims, especially when it comes to them having to accept my identity. I try to make everything ‘normal’ for them.

I set myself on fire to keep them warm. I have always had to sacrifice the person I am for the sake of my family. Yes, I kept her in.

I set myself on fire to keep you warm.  I continually suppressed her for the sake of maintaining the status quo. You must realise that as much as I am black, I am Xhosa and I am also Trans. I cannot separate the three, and I cannot make the other disappear for another to exist and be recognised by society. They are interdependent. They come as one. Intersectional.

I cannot set myself on fire anymore because I have nothing to burn.
I cannot make you see a woman because I live in a black man’s body.

I know I am a woman, even though I cannot make you see one.


NB: First published in Queerstion and republished here with the permission from the original source.

Written by: Phumelele Nkomozake 

Edited by: Chili Kier, Lucky Brian Dlamini and Thabo Gaobuse

To view related photos

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2017 Aug. 31: My experience in Poetry form

White paint over white painted walls
removing the history of previous night
falls cause blackness was about to be reborn.
Squares and rectangles
Measures and tapes
Nails and hammers
Steps and ladders
Pins and niddles the anxiety stiffens.
Clicks and claps
Giggles and laughs
Ohh’s and aah’s
Curtsey’s and bows
Curiosity is aroused.
Questions verses answers
Pictures verses humans
Hugs verses kisses
Ballroom dancing on Stevenson’s floor.
Eyes panning right, left, left and right
Reading and writing real human rights
Somnyama Ngonyama
Blackness backbone back against a white wall
backing the colour in unicorns to stay rainbow in a world
that strives to put their lights out.

© Lungile Maquba



About the author 
I was born in 1989, October 20. It was early, I was born 4 months before I was due so I spent a lot of my infant life in an incubator. Apparently I was extremely tiny even after I got out of hospital. My family was told I wouldn’t have long to live because I was too fragile, I remember this because of the comments people would make when they saw me as a teenager. I am the eldest amd first born of 6 children mothered by Nana Maquba. It was a division of 3 boys, 3 girls but 1 of my brothers passed away in April.
My life growing up was alternating between home and hospitals to an extent where I called hospital my second home and started to like hospital more than home. There was no exchange of information in terms of what was wrong with me or if I would get better. There was a small panic after what seemed like the biggest operation that has ever been done,but I asked no questions. I just ruled it out as my last because I was done with going under the knife for no solution.  
My name is Lungile Peaceworth Maquba, I grew up in Clemont KK hostel with my grandmother. I attended pretty school and primary school in Reservoir hills Durwest primary school. I finished grade 7 in 2001 and enrolled at Durban girls secondary school for my high-school. I studied there between 2002 and 2006. I was an avarage student and loved sports. I played high jump and was in the main swimming team. Amongst other things, I realised I love doing sports that were not exposed to us at home like ice seating, I did some life guard training. I use to write and recite poetry at DUT when they had an open stage for students and non students. I participated in performing arts and modeling at an agency at the Bat center. I sang whenever I got a chance. 
After high school I did a short course in beauty therapy which I later didn’t enjoy. I then studied Industrial psychology at Unisa but I had to drop out after my first year due to my parents not affording to fund my schooling. 
I decided to work, my first job was as a bar tender, then I moved to Johannesburg, worked a market research company conducting surveys. I then got employed by multichoice as an inbound call center agent. This was between 2009 and 2011. In 2012 I worked as a financial advisor for Liberty, I worked for 2 years and wanted further experience in the finance industry so I could study something specific based on what I know so I applied at different banks and got an opportunity at Capitec working at their head office as client care. I gathered all the information I needed and applied to study wealth management at Milpark collage. 
With all the information I had gathered, I knew that I wanted to teach about finance because I noticed that there’s a big gap between having money and understanding it. 
On the other hand I love adventure and traveling. I have friends around me who are art themselves and I would always be mistaken for an artist because I’m rooted in such. Most people assumed I was a photographer to a point where I called myself 1 without ever touching a camera. 
After some thinking and planning my near future, I accepted that I wasn’t happy at my job, I paid all my debt and bought myself a camera, Nikon D3100.  I still remember my reaction to taking it out of the box, I felt the most overwhelming joy, I uttered the words ‘i could die now and feel like I’ve lived’ simply because I’ve felt happiness, passion and contentment all at once. 
I resigned and left Capitec on the 31st of April 2016, I’ve been learning and living as a freelance photographer since. 
I was approached by instaholla to fake over their page for a weekend and did a stop sign campaign with just a model and different stop signs, I later did a androgenous shoot for them as well. I then moved to Durban, I approached quite a number of people asking to add them to my none existing profile, in-between that, I got approached to take photos at traditional weddings with the assistance of my friend Hlobisile who taught me all I know to this point. I opened my own company “Unmadebrand”.  Initially it was a lifestyle brand but I gave it a name that can be versatile so for my photography part of things I use it as UB4TOS. It’s a working progress.  So far I’ve worked as a photographer at the Durban essence festival,big brother,behind the scenes for My Attractive life (Ontlametse Phalatse story), making moves as a DOP assistant. Those are just the few I can attach recognisable names to. At the moment I’m a personal photographer for actress Chiedza Mhende where I follow her events and BTS while being her generations character.  
My aspirations include being an artist in photography, being world renowned and recognised for my individuality and expression. I would love to express the culture of woman posed by society and hope to get to a core before patriarchy. I would love to express the lives of intersexual and infertile woman in a world that demands fertility. I love to capture dance and movement. 
I believe there is a staged life and a life that’s experienced by mirrors. I love to capture personal freedom. 
At this very moment, I’m a toddler finding her feet into this big world, I love the size because it can accommodate all of us.
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2017 Aug. 21: Brave Beauty from Umlazi to Amsterdam

by Yaya Mavundla conversing with Le Sishi

Travelling is lot of work.
It involves a lot of preparations. There is a lot of stress and excitement at the same time.
Travelling abroad is even worse. Especially if you travelling for the first time.
You need to get yourself a passport, apply for a visa that you might not be granted at times.
There have been a number of people who were declined visas on the eleventh hour and Leticia (also known as Le)  was hoping that doesn’t happen to her. Her dreams would have been shattered.
It would have proven a lot of people right who were very negative.

She says she was so excited to having received an invite to go to Amsterdam. Especially because travelling abroad is very expensive. It something that just doesn’t happen over night. You need to have worked very hard for it.
She is continuously grateful to Muholi for the opportunity. To get an all expenses paid is everybody’s dream.

The VISA process was  very strestressful for the beauty queen. A lot of people were very negative.  She was told her visa will be declined.
People even made reference with Babes Wodumo whose visa to BET awards was unsuccessful date to late submission. She was asked what is it so special about her that she will be approved.
Luckily for Le she applied on time and had all the documents needed. That made her application easy her visa was granted. She cried tears of joy knowing she is about to represent transgender community at Amsterdam Pride.

She further mentions that she didn’t know that there was a visa fees. Thanks to Muholi who came to her rescure and paid for her visa application.
“To my shock when I got at the Amsterdam embassy I was asked to produce a proof of payment of R537.00 which I didn’t know about. I was so stressed as they were closing in an hours time, and had no money with me. My frustration was that you don’t just rock up at the embassy, you need to have an appointment. Not paying that day would have ruin my chances. I was so broke.
Thanks to Muholi for sending me the money and I was able to pay on the day” – Leh Sishi.

The beauty queen who recently graced the cover of Unique Magazine with a caption “from Umlazi to the world” on her story. It soon became a reality with her Amsterdam trip. To date she is super proud. This is her greatest memory.

Few days before her departure to Johannesburg, her work laptop was stolen. This happens after her Amsterdam ticket was confirmed. She could imagine that incident stopping her from travelling. That obviously put a lot of pressure and stress on her.
She had volume of work to submit and this meant she will be delayed.
Luckily this didn’t affect her travelling schedule. Everything got sorted when she received another laptop to complete her work and she submitted everything before her departure.

“Muholi booked me a flight to Joburg where I was going to connect a flight to Amsterdam set to leave on Sunday evening with Muholi and Lerato Dumse. I arrived in Johannesburg and I was so excited that I will be travelling abroad for the first time” says Le.

She was really looking forward to travelling abroad. Experience the Dutch language and accent and all. The biggest Pride event, meet other transgender people and just get out of my comfort zone. Learn from other transgender people and experience a different culture.

This was a dream come true to experience all these things. She was so excited when she arrived in Johannesburg on Saturday, 29th July 2017.  Arriving at O.R Tambo International airport boarding to an Amsterdam flight was a stamp that this is real. She couldn’t wait to wake up in a different country.
Travelling with Muholi and Lerato Dumse was even more exciting. They made it an enjoyable experience.

“When we got to Amsterdam I really enjoyed travelling with the train. Meeting with Dominic who introduced me to other transgender people was exciting.  I was inspired a lot. Travelling with Muholi opened my eyes. I was so happy to see Muholi’s posters all over Amsterdam. I realised how great is Muholi’s work. People are so loving and welcoming in Amsterdam”, says Le.

She mentions that her highlight was meeting Noah who plays in a movie called Stonewall.  Noah stayed at the same hotel where we were. She goes on to say she took a lot of pictures while in Amsterdam. Went to an exhibition opening of Zanele Muholi where her image from Brave Beauties is featured. Attending her first exhibition abroad by Muholi was also a great experience.

She goes on to say that her wearing imvunulo (Zulu traditional dress) made her stand out. People loved it and it really boosted her confidence.


2017 Aug. 5 Ms Le Sishi for Amsterdam Pride_4779

Le Sishi outside the Lloyd Hotel ready for Amsterdam Pride.  © Zanele Muholi (05/08/2017)

“Amsterdam Pride was so big, the love she received there was amazing.  There was a transgender woman who was leading the boat. I thought to myself – No!
I went on stage and took over. I received so much love and support” she says with enthusiasm.

“My Amsterdam visit opened my eyes. I realised I need to work. I need to be proud. There is nothing as sexy as a transgender woman who works” she adds.

Even though on her return to South Africa she says she was very hurt by security at Amsterdam airport who searched her and had to remove her padding on the bra to see what was in there. She says this was really the most uncomfortable experience and very unpleasant.

Since her return from abroad she says she feels like a brand new person. She goes on to extend her gratitude to Muholi for being so kind and giving her this opportunity.

Previous article

2017 July 23:  UniQ interview with Le Sishi

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2017 Aug. 8: I live here


I know this place
I live here

Where dresses wear deeper voices than suits
Where tattoos and piercings are shaded in rainbow colors
Where 7 closets have other shades inside of them
Then come out as bubbles and feathers at least once a year.

Where enemies pry on our pride
Pride we take to the streets
To meet family and friends
Where there are no gatekeepers preaching oppresive religious scripts.
Where we break inside because we can’t come out to taste the sun

That will reflect a spectrum
The infamous colors
The androgeny of the spectrum of life

That’s when the night crawlers are all over
Hunting for our virginity
Haunting our consciousness to argue with self
Make believe that your difference is unacceptable to society.
Suddenly causing conflicts
Making war and not love
In the name of religion
Who formed these rules?
Who made me
And the feelings I have?

Well I live here
I love here

Where lipstick fluid
Grabs her hair with polished nails
Where meeting the girlfriend is accompanied by cutting nails
And she is looking handsome
Where fingercots and dental dems are hard to find
Where do we get them?
To protect ourselves too, you know

Where he cooks and gives it all to him
Biceps grip the linen
He’s seconds from is second coming

He was seconds from meeting his creator
With his face against the surface
When he thought he was a she

Where s/he or they and are likely to be ‘curatively raped’
paralyzed and murdered.
Where color covers pride and loss
In a form of foam on floats
Where the struggle differs for a person of the same queer gender but different skin color.

That is only the tip of this iceberg I call home

© Lebohang Mashifane




Previous by Lebohang


2014 Aug. 9:  My name is Woman





Posted in 2016 VACEP, Androgyny, Anger, Another Approach Is Possible, Art Activism, Poem by Lebo Mashifane, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

2017 July 30: Painful send off for transgender activist Iko Mash

Text by Yaya Mavundla
Photos by Zanele Muholi

2017 July 29 Iko Mash funeral _ coffin_4431

Celebrity friends paying their last respect to Iko…

The funeral service of Iko Mash was very painful. Iko who passed away on the 21st of July 2017 was buried on Saturday the 29th of July 2017.

Her funeral service was held at Thaba-Jabula Secondly School in Soweto.
The service was scheduled to start at 8-11am and finish at 11am but due to people arriving late at the venue it went for extra 30 minutes.
The programme did not go as planned. There were a lot of people who ended up speaking in the podium who were not on the programme.

A lot of things that Iko Mash believed in was taken away from her. Most speakers did not respect who Iko was. Her grandfather who spoke on behalf of the family  (who was not in the programme) said he did not know who Iko Mash was.

2017 July 29 Iko s family _4448

Family members at the funeral service

He constantly referred to Iko with the name of his choice. The name they have chosen for Iko at birth. Not the name she have chosen for herself and known as by many. He went on to challenge the media reports that Iko Mash was not accepted by family because of her gender. “Iko Mash was never abused by the family. He (as disrespectfully referred by him) might have been mistreated by a member of the family…maybe his uncle but was not abused” he contradicted himself.

Transphobia became a norm as two more speakers that took to the podium constantly refered to the late transgender activist as a he.
Another speaker who is a family’s neighbour, Mpho Molubi went on to proudly refer to Iko as Billy. Even though she knew that Iko was against it. She chose to turn a blind eye and disrespect Iko at her funeral service.

2017 July 29 Criselda _4762

Programme director Criselda Dudumashe handled the service very well and it was very clear that she knew who Iko was. “Iko lived for people” said Criselda.She revived the mood. Threw a lot of tasteful jokes. She asked one speaker to say whatever he wanted to say to Iko as this was his last chance to say it. Knowing that Iko’s word was always final. She even referred to Manaka as a chief mourner. The mood in the venue changed for the better. Sadly people were just not willing to sing.

Former Metro FM publicist Happy Ngidi spoke so fondly of Iko. How Iko was dedicated and professional in everything she did. “Everytime I needed a face beat I would call Iko. She was very reliable & professional” said Happy.
She went on to say that Iko was forever on time. Regardless of what was the call time. She said even if the call time was as early as 4am Iko will be there without fail.

Judith Sephuma paid tribute to Iko with an amazing and moving performance.
Iko was known as a very welcoming individual. She took people as they are and made them better people. She inspired and mentored a lot of young girls who took part at the Sun Babe competition.
“Chief mourner” Manaka Ranaka and Siphokazi January supported every positive comments made about their friend Iko Mash.  They described Iko as someone who was very opinionated and demanded attention and to be accepted. “She once went to an audition and a casting director asked Iko if she knew that the character was of a female. She responded to the casting director and said, I can’t believe there are still people who are not ready for change, and you are one of them”. Said Siphokazi.

The service was then wrapped up by Pastor Nomazwe Ntlokwana and we drover off to the cemeteries. The traffic was very bad that some people parked their cars very far and walked to the cemeteries.
Iko Mash was buried at Westpark Cemetery alongside other well known South African citizens. She is the first transgender woman to be buried at Westpark cemeteries.

I would like to extend many thanks to Virginia Magwaza who made it a point to bring a trans flag that was placed on top of Iko’s coffin at her funeral service.
I wish the obituary was done by people who really knew and loved her. What we read on her obituary did not represent who Iko was. It was NOT Iko Mash at all.
May her soul Rest In Peace, Pride and that’s how God wishes it to be.

2017 July 29 Lebo Keswa @ Iko Mash funeral_4468

Lebo Keswa mourning a friend, Iko Mash…

Previous by Yaya

2017 July 27: Dignified memorial service for Iko Mash

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2017 July 30: My first trip to the United Kingdom (London)

by Thobeka Bhengu 

I departed from South Africa on the 8th of July 2017 and arrived in London on the 9th of July. It had been a long trip and the body was naturally tired but was still functional.
I had to find my way around Heathrow Airport which is the largest airport I’ve ever seen.  Then I moved to the space with internet connection so I could get connected and be able to communicate with the team that was already in London after a successful opening of Zanele Muholi’s  solo exhibition of Somnyama Ngonyama at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam that took place on the 7th July 2017.


2017 July 16 Thobeka Bhengu in London_4028

Thobeka Bhengu in London. © Photo by Lerato Dumse (2017)

When Lerato arrived, we made our way into the city and upon catching up, I was updated about a tragedy that transpired in Amsterdam on 8th July 2017.
At the time, the video had already been posted on line and it had gone viral.  The faces and voices in the video were familiar to me.  It was our friends(names of the survivors are reserved because the matter is with the lawyers).  Muholi had invited to join her in Amsterdam at the opening of her solo exhibition. At first, I could not bring myself to believing that the video was true.  I kept asking if it was real. I could not understand how a human being would be so brutal to a group of defenceless young women.

My mind and body were in so much shock that I felt a little lump on my throat that blocked all the words that wanted to come out. It took us an hour to arrive in London where we would be residing for the rest of the trip. I kept looking outside the window to see the grand and colonial buildings. When we finally arrived at the station after we got lost and could not find our way, I was welcomed in London with open arms by Muholi. There was no time for catching up, we had to get ready and make our way to Rivington Place at the Autograph ABP Gallery to meet up with up a few locals so we could make our way to the UK Black Pride. It was an absolute delight, seeing people of colour gathered in one place to celebrate blackness and queerness was beyond satisfying.

Later that night when we arrived back at our residing place it dawned on me that something tragic had happened as calls and texts flooded Muholi’s phone and Lerato’s phone and the video of the Amsterdam incident continued to do the rounds on social media. The following day and the next couple of days, we spent indoors, the atmosphere was sombre for everyone and the team had to communicate with those left in Amsterdam. Things were spiralling out of control in Amsterdam and back at home. Each day something new came up and had to be attended to immediately. On the third day, we had to get out of the house to clear our heads and attended an exhibition on the Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power at the Tate Modern, London.
It is always soothing to experience black art and it was exactly what we needed, to be out of the house for a few hours. The team (Lerato Dumse, Muholi & I) had to constantly adjust and continue with what we had to do in London whilst staying in interaction with what was going on in Amsterdam and back at home in South Africa.
Preparations for the opening on the 13th July 2017 had to ensue.  The artwork had already been printed and the displaying process was underway. Amidst the groundwork at the museum, interviews had been scheduled with media houses as well.


2017 July 14 Thobeka & Muholi @ Autograph _ London _3524

Portrait of the activists, Thobeka Bhengu & Muholi by Lerato Dumse at Autograph, London (2017/07/13)

Finally, the day of the opening of Somnyama Ngonyama had arrived, and the opening was sold out. I had to prepare my mind to focus on the opening and the important work that had to be done that day. I was ready to let the body communicate the injustices and discrimination that a black body has to constantly endure across the world. Using black latex gloves depicted in Muholi’s captivating portrait titled Phila, Muholi created a costume that I was wearing in the performance and the music created by two South African LGBTI artists Annalyzer and Genius Illusion. The music spoke directly to the moving body in that space and the context of Muholi’s work. Audiences gathered at the Autograph gallery to experience the breathtaking work of our very own Zanele Muholi. The opening was remarkable, the audience was left in awe of Muholi’s work and we had done what we set out to do. The opening raved of brilliant reviews and media coverage.


 Thobeka Bhengu’s moving performance in response to Somnyama Ngonyama, at Autograph, London captured by Lerato Dumse (2017/07/15)


The next few days were more composed with talks, media interviews and walkabouts at the gallery. The highlight of my stay besides the opening had to be a casual and informative meeting with several queer artists in the UK, where we shared our background and the important work that we do. The meeting arranged by a queer activist and friends was held at an old church that has been turned into a residential area. It was a fruitful meeting that is yet to bare more fruits in the future.

A day before our departure from London, there was an artist tour of the exhibition and a closing ceremony that was arranged. I had to deliver my last performance, a lot had transpired in the week and we were all looking forward to get back home and be in our safe spaces for a few days.  As much as I did not get a chance to explore England, I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of yet another historic display of Muholi’s work.


About the author

Thobeka Bhengu is a performance artist, activist, choreographer and an artistic director of the Rainbow Theatre Group in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.


Previous by Thobeka

2016 Oct. 12: The dancer’s pysche

Related links


‘I’m scared. But this work needs to be shown’: Zanele Muholi’s 365 protest photographs


My year as a dark lioness – in pictures






Posted in Dance performance, London 2017, My First trip to the United Kingdom (London), Racial attack video in Amsterdam, Reflection by Thobeka Bhengu, Somnyama Ngonyama at Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2017 July 29: Pride and Loss during Amsterdam Pride 2017



2014 Jan. 4: Muntu Masombuka’s funeral, KwaThema, Johannesburg. Photo © Lerato Dumse

Pride and Loss

Curated by Lerato Dumse, with work by Boitumelo Nkopane, Collen Mfazwe, Lebogang Mashifane, Lerato Dumse, Thembela Dick and Velisa Jara.
Exhibition opening 3 August 2017 | 17-21h | Weteringschans 69, Amsterdam
Press release by curator Lerato Dumse:

A group exhibition featuring the work of six South African activists and artists will open at No Man’s Art Gallery from 3-27 August 2017 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The show is positioned to coincide with Amsterdam Gay Pride.

The exhibiting youths, Boitumelo Nkopane, Collen Mfazwe, Lebogang Mashifane, Lerato Dumse, Thembela Dick and Velisa Jara are participants in the award winning Faces and Phases portraiture series by Zanele Muholi. They are also beneficiaries of Muholi’s Photo XP project, which is designed with the aim of sharing photography skills. Their work forms part of Visual Activism that articulates the existence and resistance of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) citizens of South Africa (SA). South Africa’s democracy celebrates 23 years of existence and the constitution gives everyone the right to express gender and sexual identity. These photographs and videos form part of a country’s visual history, with the aim of claiming full citizenship, by exposing the atrocities experienced by this marginalised community, who were granted the right to same sex marriage back in 2006.

Pride and Loss are the themes that will be explored through the selected works produced during pride, funerals, marches, church service and other LGBTI related events between 2014-present. Members of the black gay, lesbian and transgender community have been beaten, sworn at, paralyzed, butchered, ‘curatively raped’ and even murdered due to lesbo/trans and homophobic hate crimes in different parts of SA.
These documented funerals serve as examples and proof of these human rights violations, while also remembering activists lost along the way. The on-going murders continue to affect and force people to live in fear, as they encounter brutal violence due to gender expression and sexuality, in a country that claims to guarantee these human rights.

The exhibition aims to extend and maintain relationships and cooperation among members of the LGBT community in South Africa, Amsterdam and beyond. This initiative was born out of discussions between South African activist, artist and photographer, Zanele Muholi from Inkanyiso collective and No Man’s Art Gallery owner Emmelie Koster.

The visual documentation will be installed on the walls alongside videos and text containing 23 testimonies to mark 23 years of democracy, which will shed light into the experiences of black LGBT members and those connected to this community, including family members.


Exhibition opening hours 04.08 – 27.08.17 | Friday to Sunday | 11 – 18h or by appointment

We thank Gallery ColorZAM MagazinePrince Claus Fund, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Pretoria, South Africa and Pride Amsterdam for their collaboration on this project.

Zanele Muholi introduces six contributing members of her visual activist platform Inkanyiso to Amsterdam during Amsterdam Pride. Pride and Loss opens August 3rd at NMAG and is curated by Lerato Dumse.

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