Slice of Life: ​Jenny comes to Jo’burg to forge a new life as an artist

Siphelele ‘Irey Lady’ Mkhize. (Madelene Cronjé)

Siphelele ‘Irey Lady’ Mkhize. (Madelene Cronjé)

I stood there, in my small apartment, hungry and alone. I stared at my phone as I contemplated calling my mother. I wanted to call her because it’s really tough here [in Johannesburg] but I remembered why I left home to begin with. Empageni is home – that is where my family is but I did not belong there. Before anything else I am a street artist. My art belongs in the streets and it is created for the streets.

I looked at my phone again. I stared at my contact list and searched for uMa’s number. Calling her is not really an option because I have gone against everything that she wanted me to be. She wanted me to be a mechanical engineer, but I chose art. I know my life would have been easier if I pursued a career like that – I wouldn’t be struggling to make it.

Empangeni was suffocating me and everywhere I went people would stare at me. I love my family and all the people I left behind at home but I love my art even more. I don’t have to tuck away parts of me to be accepted. Here, in Jo’burg, there are many people like me. They dress like me, they love the music I like and they don’t think I am strange. Nobody questions why I have a mohawk or all these piercings. Nobody turns twice to look at me.

  I love Jo’burg but it is hard here. I kept staring at my phone. I could not press that call button, so I put it down on the table. I didn’t call my mother. I must survive on my own. Being hungry is part of the hustle. – Siphelele ‘Irey Lady’ Mkhize, as told to Pontsho Pilane

Pontsho Pilane

Pontsho Pilane

Pontsho Pilane is a health journalist at the Mail & Guardian. She debuted as a journalist at The Daily Vox, where she wrote primarily about gender, race and how they intersect. She was previously a general news reporter at the M&G. Pilane holds two degrees in media studies from Wits University. Read more from Pontsho Pilane


blog comments powered by Disqus

Client Media Releases

Infrastructure, awareness key to curbing road fatalities
Rosebank College open for 2018 applications
Cyber Resilience Framework saves
MTN distances itself from parody Twitter account