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Women’s History Month: Zanele Muholi

Did you know that March was Women’s History Month? If you didn’t, it’s no biggie. Personally, I thought March was a regular month that began with National Pancake Day followed by St. Patrick’s Day, ending with Spring. So when I was asked to write a piece on Zanele Muholi in honor of Women’s History Month, I was intrigued.

Since 2008, Jan. 2010
Since 2008, Jan. 2010

So who is Zanele Muholi? Well, as a featured artist at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2014, it was said that Muholi is a photographer who creates dialogue through the exploration of black lesbian, gay identities and politics in contemporary South Africa. I hate to admit it, but I ain’t really that deep of a thinker. I am a boy-crazy girl who likes to stay out all night, and wake up super early in the morning to eat breakfast. So writing about an individual who describes herself as a “visual artist” was enlightening. So I searched for some common ground and discovered that, like myself Muholi, is from a small town. She is from a small township of South Africa called, Umlazi. According to her Facebook page, she studied photography at Ryerson University, in Toronto and is currently living in Johannesburg, Gauteng.

Zinzi and Tozama I Mowbray, Cape Town, 2010
Zinzi and Tozama I Mowbray, Cape Town, 2010

Taking my research from the United Nations, I discovered that although South Africa was one of the first countries to legitimize homosexual relationships and rights with their constitution in 1996. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, approximately 1,100 rapes are being reported each month, with an average of 36 women and girls raped everyday.


ID Crisis 2003
ID Crisis, 2003

Well, the struggle for LGBT people still occurs, insert Muholi’s work to tell the story of women who can’t do so themselves. Muholi’s investigation of LGBT speaks volume of her bravery. In October 2012, Muholi exhibited her bravery by participating in the conference in Oslo ‘All that is banned is desired.’ This moment was an opportunity for Muholi to present positive imagery of Black lesbians and transgendered persons through her work. Damn, sound like a woman worthy of being recognized during Women’s History Month.

[highlight background=”#00e7b4″ color=”#ffffff”]Editor’s Note: As stated on[/highlight] Artsy, [highlight background=”#00e7b4″ color=”#ffffff”]”In April 2012, thieves broke into Muholi’s Cape Town apartment and stole over 20 hard drives holding years of photographic documentation, suggesting the continued controversy and sensitivity surrounding the issues that Muholi’s works confront.” She told me about this via email. She was going through a lot. I’m so happy and proud of her accomplishments since then.[/highlight]


Written by Manny King John

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