In concluding #WomensMonth’s objective to amplify ordinary South African women’s voices in the past few weeks, we finish strong and intentional with our theme for August to reflect the women’s experiences through the lens of visual artist Andy Mkosi. In this ultimate installation for August, you will be immersed in the stories of 5 captivating women captured by her in their everyday existence, allowing us the privilege to#HearHerVoice.
The collaboration project has achieved the intended magnification of women’s presence and roles in society. By sharing their stories, both the photographers and their chosen voices were afforded a wholesome platform to reflect on their circumstances, choices and ideals as they forge forward, creating their realities one intentional action at a time.
NoncedoandNonzuzo Gxekwa are twin photographers born in Ladysmith, KZN. Their creative company is aptly named Carbon Copy. It is uncommon for twins to work in the same field of creativity and collaborate seamlessly, yet they are displaying the efficiency and beauty of such sibling collaborations. Beyond their professional alliance as photographers is an extraordinary and self-defined co-mothering of Noncedo’s son, Osun. Theirs is a heart-warming and beautiful story of women pragmatically living in action what works for them and supporting each other.
Thobeka Mbane, fashion stylist,is an accomplished stylist from Cofimvaba, EC, now residing in Johannesburg, who also happens to be differently-abled. She has styled Sho Madjozi and worked on big campaigns for Vodacom, Career Magazine and MultiChoice, yet these accolades don’t define her.
At the age of 5, Thobeka was diagnosed with spinal tuberculosis that led to severe scoliosis which resulted in her spine curving. In a past interview, she said, “People look at you the way you see yourself: if you give the disability a lot of attention, other people will do the same.” Her spirit is defiant and confident; she has not allowed any limitation in her body to limit her talent and passion. Women like Thobeka are exemplary to women who are differently-abled and fully-abled to go confidently in the direction of their own dreams.
Leonora, an artist, is a woman who defies the odds and pushes boundaries. “Let us beat stereotypes; let's fight all forms of abuse and make our passions command respect,” she says. Hers is a story of finding her own tribe. “I believe in order to rise beyond your circumstances, you ought to be bold, be you, make a statement, and follow your passion.”Boisterous young women like Leonora are the fire that ignites flames in young women who are burning to make a mark for themselves. She is a clear reflection of a woman who chooses love for herself over the fear of what could go wrong.
GudaniRamalamula, a sangoma (healer), is a transgender woman who lives in Braamfischerville, Gauteng. It has become more important and urgent to ensure that gender and sexual orientation does not restrict access to basic human rights and access to whichever profession is chosen. Gudani’sstory reflects strength, care, healing and resilience.
Andy Mkosi’sintriguing technique of capturing the essence of these astonishing women is a flash reflection of a full spectrum of women. The possibly hard beginnings that lead to beautiful conclusions after an adversity-filled middle is inspiring and beautiful.
The stories shared over the #WomensMonth series are a compelling portrayal of women who are too often invisible. This ultimate post, closing the series for the month of August, seals and legitimizes the collaboration with a brilliant selection of visual artists who authentically showed up to deliver reflections of women in South Africa through their own voices.