Phofu Peter Tsiane (24), is a film and image maker from the Northern Free State,

I consider myself as a visual activist and a sensible art director, who he uses the lens as a to  narrates black township resiliency, changing media bias and stigmatization about the black experience. Furthermore creating an open dialogue about my own challenges and lived trauma in a township setting.

My role as an artist is educational in that i document the black experience to achieve and memorialize a liberated, authentic account of their existence. My work challenges the status quo, especially regarding social or political issues. Most often it is personal and reassembles the misperceptions that society has towards black folk. 

The visuals that narrate these stories are a representation of a community which I resides in, Virginia.

Religion and spirituality are forever becoming.

Becoming is a transition towards an embodiment of the desired change which will demonstrate a transformative movement.”

Had I been asked about my thoughts pertaining to religion and spirituality a few months ago, I probably would have had a different answer but if I wanted to portray my subjects and their stories in an authentic and honest manner, I had to be open and confront the biases that I have within myself. After realizing that I have conflicts with religion and spirituality I came to the realization that they came from a place of negative connotations from the media, community members, peers and everyone who was open enough to share their own opinion with me. That’s when I concluded that if I had to debunk these connotations, I had to be honest with my subjects and my intention to photograph them was to change / reverse the stereotypes that was fed to me.

From this group of people one thing became very evident when I had to speak with them In-depth about their practices it’s that they use the same Christian Bible and it’s also the cause of the conflicts because they comprehend it in different ways

While contemplating which subjects to photograph, a consistent idea kept recurring to me, what do these issues of religion and spirituality meant to the youth?

Gogo Lesedi, photographed in this series, is a 24-year-old traditional healer. We met around the community, but I never thought ever I would seek guidance from someone my age. Another negative connotation I had to debunk within myself. As I sat in her indumba – secret healing space for traditional healers, the conversation was informative. She relied on the story of her journey of discovering her gifts. She told me how she lost her bursary and her apartment and with an illness which medical doctors couldn’t diagnose, she decided to finally face her reality. After deciding to go through initiation her life changed for the better. Gogo Lesedi still mentioned that there are rules which she has to follow within her personal life.

Growing up in a Christian household,  I never truly understood religion and growing older I have came to my own realization about religion. But one thing I have felt is a sense of belonging and community, that’s what often my mother shares with me. As a child I got to learn love, respect and patience at an early age which I will forever be grateful to her that I got to experience it my lifetime.

Copyright ©️ Phofu Peter Tsiane