The 18th Cape Town International Jazz Festival in pictures

This year was my second time attending the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. I attended as part of the festival’s photojournalism programme, which trains photographers on how to take pictures in a jazz/concert setting. I spent most of my time at the Rosies stage, where I took pictures of artists like Buddy Wells, Tune Recreation Committee (TRC), Thandiswa Mazwai, SkyJack, Siya Makuzeni, etc. I went into the festival with a knowledge of the kinds of images I wanted to come out with – hence I stuck to the Rosies stage. I wanted intimate, classic, moody pictures. But, when in a festival like this, one with a line-up so diverse and legendary, I took to other stages where greats like Jonas Gwangwa performed.

History Begins With A Garden – An exhibition by Khaya Witbooi

“Sometimes we ask flowers to speak for us, to tell our love, jealousy or gratitude; but flowers can reveal other truths if we let them. They can tell about the love and hate of our past and the controversies of our present, unlocking the political history of their beauty and poetics. The same inquiry would unveil the sinless space of the garden itself as a place of symbolic and material production. It is here where the sublime beauty, accessible to few, emerges as the surplus value of the dirty hand labor of the many.

History Begins With A Garden is an exhibition by Khaya Witbooi curated by Mariella Franzoni, that explores the colonial genealogy (or counter-history) of gardens and gardening in South Africa, bringing to light its relation with slavery, land dispossession and nationalist propaganda. Questions like, “how the beauty of South Africa’s nature is produced, protected and celebrated? For whom? At whose expense?” motivate the exploration of the notion of garden as an ambiguous space of beauty and violence.”

History Begins With A Garden is showing at Gallery MOMO from 16 March to 16 April 2017.


Music and Career Live Performance: Cape Town International Jazz Festival

Annually, the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, hosts a career development workshop for high school students who wish to make music their career. The Music and Career Live Performance is “aimed at high school students with an interest in event production and performing.”

Throughout the process, the learners are imparted with basic stage production, arrangements and stage etiquette.

Schools that participated in the performance were Livingstone High School, Worcester High School, Wynberg Senior Secondary School, Alexander Sinton High School, Heathfield High School, Groote Schuur High School, Cedar High Scool and Settlers High School.

The live performance happened at the Artscape on 26 March.

#BLF26 portraits

On 18 July 2016, 26 members of the Black First Land First movement (BLF26) engaged in protest action at the Office of the former Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, which resulted in them being arrested and subsequently imprisoned for 8 days in the Pretoria Central Maximum Security Prison.

BLF had been putting pressure on the former public protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela to investigate and report on the complaint of R26 billion as indicated in the CIEX report, stolen by white capitalists including ABSA bank, which was lodged at her office in 2011. They also wanted her to investigate and report on State Capture by white capital.

BLF26 are appearing at the Pretoria Regional Court tomorrow. Click here for the full details.

I took portraits of the BLF26, which were originally published on the Black Opinion website.

The Fuck Campaign at Wits

All pictures by Zimasa Mpemnyama

By Masego Panyane

UPDATE: The South African Human Right Commission (SAHRC)’s Issac Mangena has confirmed that a complaint has been laid with the commission regarding Mthunzi’s t-shirt and the matter is being looked into by the commission. Mangena added that there will be no hearing held by the commission for Mthunzi on Wednesday.

A group of protesting students took to the Great Hall Piazza to voice their displeasure about a fellow student, Zama Mthunzi being reported to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for Hate Speech over a t-shirt he created during an artistic protest over the financial exclusion of poor students, presence of security personnel and other reasons, on campus in January.

Mthunzi, a 3rd year Mathematical Sciences student caused a stir on social media after an image of him in a t-shirt written “Fuck White People” trended on social media sites.

The Art Activation, which happened in January, was a protest organized by students to say how they felt at Wits-like they are “dying” because of the “oppression they face at the hands of the institution”. Mthunzi says the activation was when he ‘spontaneously’ created his t-shirt to show how he was feeling at time.

“I just took a t-shirt and I wrote how I was feeling at that moment. I was feeling hatred, because it was times of financial exclusion…and you’d look, come to lines and see how White people are paying, they’re relaxed, there are no financial problems so it arose that Black exclusion is so [rampant] in this institution” Mthunzi said.

Mthunzi’s t-shirt was met with harsh criticism by some members of the university community with a complaint having been allegedly laid with the Human Rights Commission and an investigation taking place in the university.

The protest took place during the lunch hour on Monday afternoon and there was a considerable amount of security personnel guarding the Great Hall entrance and the immediate surroundings of the piazza. This, however, did not seem to faze the demonstrating students as they continued painting t-shirts, singing and explaining to fellow students why they were there.

The university released a statement condemning the actions of protesting students, and it has also stated that it has heard that Mthunzi will “apparently” be appearing before the SAHRC but they are “Not sure who laid the complaint with SAHRC”.

The demonstration is set to continue till Wednesday in solidarity with Mthunzi who will allegedly be appearing before the Human Rights Commission regarding this complaint.


Story originally published on

Review: The Sound Of Silence at WAM


All pictures by Zimasa Mpemnyama

The second civil war in Sudan was from 1983 to 2005. Twenty-two years characterised by famine, disease and death. And as with any war situation, journalists and photographers were there, documenting the horrors of the war.

One of these photojournalists, Kevin Carter, became world famous after taking the iconic picture of a crouching baby girl being stalked by a vulture at a refugee camp.

Carter, who was part of the prominent Bang-bang club (a group of four white-male photographers who became known for taking pictures of apartheid violence in the late 80’s) and who won a Pulitzer Prize for the image, is said to have taken 20 minutes to take the picture. The question then has always been, why did Carter not go and help the little girl? A girl whose name, face and identity has now disappeared into the blank spaces of history where the most vulnerable (black bodies mostly) disappear into nothingness.

Bringing this picture taken in 1993 back into the spotlight is Chilean-born, New York-based artist, filmmaker and architect Alfredo Jaar. Showing at the Wits Art Museum, the installation work, called The Sound Of Silence, consists of a very large aluminium structure in the middle of the museum. On the side facing the entrance of the museum, the structure has large horizontal white lights. At the back of the box is an entrance to a pitch black cinema where a large black screen shows words written in white.

Kevin. Carter. Kevin Carter. The words read, going on to tell the story of the troubled photojournalist. In the silence and darkness of the room, one is absorbed into the screen. Towards the end of the display, four mounted cameras flash brightly to blind the audience, only to slowly reveal the picture in discussion.

Once the picture is revealed the words go on to examine the corporate ownership of such images and how such images are made to feed into capitalist consumption based on who owns them.

“For me this exhibition [in Johannesburg] is the most important exhibition of The Sound Of Silence,” said Jaar at the opening. “This is the 26th time that this work has been shown but finally for me The Sound Of Silence has come home. This is it’s home, this is the home of Kevin Carter, the protagonist of this work and I am very proud that it is being shown here.”

Following Jaar’s oeuvre, this installation challenges viewers to examine the problematic ways in which consumers and image makers partake in a process of giving or taking away power. Jaar indirectly asks, what is the responsibility of image makers (photographers, photojournalists)? And what is the responsibility of consumers and viewers? The ethical implications of capturing, owning and distributing such politically charged images are deeply questioned.

The Sound of Silence is showing at the Wits Art Museum from 23 February to Sunday 10 April 2016.


Story originally published on

Arrests in “criminal activities” at Wits

by Zimasa Mpemnyama and Masego Panyane

All pictures by Zimasa Mpemnyama

UPDATE: Following their release on Friday evening from the Hillbrow Police Station, the students appeared at the Hilbrow Magistrates Court where the case against them was withdrawn by the prosecutor for further investigation.

Twenty #WitsFeesMustFall protestors were arrested earlier today following an alleged contravention of a court interdict obtained by Wits University. The students will likely spend the weekend at the Hillbrow police station as they are expected to appear in court on Monday.

The students who have not been named, are suspected of being involved in a number of actions including occupying the Solomon Mahlangu Concourse, and using a burning foam mattress to intimidate students. In statement released shortly after their arrest Wits University said the individuals had been involved in a number of “unlawful activities”, including “attempted arson, malicious damage to property, the alleged burning of a bus, the setting alight of a mattress at the back of a library and the vandalisation of University property.”

Gauteng Police spokesperson Captain Tsekiso Mofokeng said the students were being charged with contravention of a court order. “During the activities they were notified by the police that what they were doing was illegal and they should stop … as soon as we finalise our paper work, they’ll be notified of bail”, Mofokeng said.

Wits EFF Student Command chairperson, Vuyani Pambo, who spoke on behalf of the arrested students shared a different version of events. “About 20 students were congregated at Yale Road, sitting eating chips and having chocolate when the police passed for the first round, second round they rounded them up with the private, over paid security, Fidelity and forced them into the van. Then students being educated as they are, asked why they’re being arrested, and the police said get into the van … We got here and asked what was the charge because at the point of arrest, there was never made to the students, or rights read to the students”, Pambo said.

Pambo says there was a “faffing around” when police were asked what the charge is. He says the university is using “Apartheid tactics” to shut down protest on campus.

The students were released late on Friday evening with no bail.


Story originally published on

Herbie Tsoaeli’s Afrikan Time Ensemble

On February 19, Double Bassist  Herbie Tsoaeli was back at The Orbit with the Afrikan Time Ensemble. The ensemble performed new songs (a stunning tribute to Zim Ngqawana was among them), along with old favorites like Work and Wait and I’ve Been Thinking About You. 

The new Afrikan Time ensemble now features Linda Sikhakhane on tenor saxophone, Nhlanhla Daniel Mahlangu on alto saxophone, Lungile Kunene on drums and Mncedi Kupa on piano.

African Time music was as capturing and deeply emotive as ever, showing Tsoaeli’s ability to pick and combine musicians that compliment each other. The bond between the musicians was beautiful to see, and even more delightful to hear.  



Mawande Ka Zenzile at Stevenson Gallery

Stevenson Gallery in Johannesburg is currently hosting the third solo show by artist, Mawande Ka Zenzile, titled Mawande Ka Zenzile. The exhibition contains paintings, sculptures, video installation and a performance piece (during the opening night). During the performance piece, a man walked around the gallery with a goat on a red leash in hand and a head covered in a brown potato sack. Walking barefoot on a cow dung covered floor, while wearing a black suit, the man shouted – as if reciting a praise song – in isiXhosa as he was walking. 

Some of the materials used for the show include “cow dung and earth on canvas, stones and mud bricks” 

About the show, Mawande writes:

“In this body of work I’m interrogating political and social issues such as racism, capitalism and colonialism and the impact they have created. For me art becomes a space for contemplation where new allegories meet the old ones, and out of this fusion I develop different ways to expose how power works in our society and histories. In this exhibition I continue using iconographic images; I borrow them from their original context and use them as materials in my own work to convey hidden meanings about the complex nature of our society.”

The following images were taken during the opening night of the exhibition:



All image taken by Zimasa Mpemnyama.