I grew up in Soweto, in a township called Zola 1 the same township that was home to famous musician such as Mandoza, Zola 7, Mduduzi Masilela, briefly Brenda Fassie in the 1980s and many more public figures who have shaped the culture and the art of creativity in the township. The township that modeled young people in Soweto was never known for making political statements, but it was notorious with gangs, women and men from Zola were feared across the country. All of that changed when Kwaito was born (local youth music genre). Zola produced the Godfather of Kwaito, Mdu Maselela. Soon after that, artists from Zola were leading the pack. My body of work is inspired by the youth that Changed The Narrative. Through music, they inspired the entire country to start doing things for themselves.

As a documentary photographer, I document everyday stories and people in hope to continue to archive stories that remain untold and those that should be cherished. Through pursuing this project “Changing The Narrative” documenting the youth of Soweto, I have learned that music and dance have groomed young people, helping them to define where they come from, who they are, and where they are. Sub-culture has a huge role in shaping young people, with these images I hope to show the themes of freedom, dreams, and movement. The centerpiece is an image of Tumelo also known as Beyonce around the township. Tumelo says “As a transgender woman she believes she has found freedom but still fighting to be truly free.”

Changing The Narrative.

All images are under copyright © Cebisile Mbonani