The Portfolio: Tshepiso Mabula

 

 

It was on a hot day in 2012 that I came across images by Santu Mofokeng. I was sitting in my uncle’s living room in Lephalale, Limpopo. There was something striking about the stillness in his images and right there I decided I wanted to create work that evokes the same kind of emotions.

I sought to create work that deals with memory, loss, nostalgia and the sense of what it means to truly belong. It was in the same living room about five or so years later that I decided to embark on a body of work titled Ukugrumba, which in Xhosa means “to exhume” or “dig up”, motivated by my family’s trauma.

I revisited the past to shed light on the trauma that apartheid left with the people who lived through that period. I looked at how this trauma continues to plague a new generation of South Africans who are trying to make sense of the turbulent and violent history we inherited.

The work re-examines haunted places that lie bare with memories of a violent time. It also looks for details to fill the vacant spaces in conversations about colonisation, justice, liberation and reconciliation.

The image, titled Place of Rest, is of my uncle’s bedroom in Lephalale. The room has remained vacant since his death. I photographed the image while walking around the house where my mother and her siblings grew up. I came across the room and my first thought was how cold it felt after my uncle’s death.

The image is deeply personal and it was important to me that it be graceful and carefully composed, because the work in Ukugrumba is meant as an elegy to the forgotten soldiers who sacrificed their youth in the fight for liberation. I thought I knew my uncle well until I discovered that there was still a lot I needed to learn. I wanted to understand how being an activist affected the trajectory of his life. The final years of his life culminated in him having distant relationship with his family, illness and a reputation of being “malome wa letagwa”, the drunkard uncle. I took the photograph after I had visited his grave. It was my way of paying homage to his humanity taken from him by apartheid and of reconnecting with him as an ancestor.

Ukugrumba is on at the Market Photo Workshop

To see more of Tshepiso Mabula’s work: 

Instagram: @dr_mmasnepe 
Facebook: Tshepiso Mabula ka Ndongeni
Twitter: @tshepiso_Mabula

Tshepiso Mabula 1
Guest Author
Advertisting

Senior SANDF colonel involved in an alleged business scam

A senior soldier who is part of South Africa’s peacekeeping missions is accused by her colleagues of swindling them out of of hundreds of thousands of rands in a nonexistent business deal

AU pushes the frontiers of transitional justice

Now these important policy developments must be implemented

Mass store and job cuts at Massmart

Changed market conditions and an appalling economy has hit low end cash-and-carry outlets

Courts to guide land expropriation

Two bits of law need to be approved before a court can decide if land owners will be compensated
Advertising

Press Releases

New-style star accretion bursts dazzle astronomers

Associate Professor James O Chibueze and Dr SP van den Heever are part of an international team of astronomers studying the G358-MM1 high-mass protostar.

2020 risk outlook: Use GRC to build resilience

GRC activities can be used profitably to develop an integrated risk picture and response, says ContinuitySA.

MTN voted best mobile network

An independent report found MTN to be the best mobile network in SA in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Is your tertiary institution is accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Is your tertiary institution accredited?

Rosebank College is an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education, which is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training.

VUT chancellor, Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi, dies

The university conferred the degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa on Dr Xolani Mkhwanazi for his outstanding leadership contributions to maths and science education development.

Innovate4AMR now in second year

SA's Team pill-Alert aims to tackle antimicrobial resistance by implementing their strategic intervention that ensures patients comply with treatment.

Medical students present solution in Geneva

Kapil Narain and Mohamed Hoosen Suleman were selected to present their strategic intervention to tackle antimicrobial resistance to an international panel of experts.