The experience of African immigrants living in South Africa has previously been portrayed through images of violence, deportation and police brutality. Local photographer, Sydelle Willow Smith, attempts to challenge these visual stereotypes in her exhibition Soft Walls (the show runs till April 2nd at The Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg), by depicting everyday scenes that, seemingly, we should all be able to relate to.
Homosexuality is also often depicted as an import from the deviant West. But the African Continent has always been more queer than generally acknowledged; it has always rainbow-hazed into such a range of sexualities that it is a matter of legitimate political and critical concern that homosexualities and African societies are read as antinomous. Also, these homosexualities fall outside of the purview of the law and even of language. The expression—‘to call a spade a spade’— entails speaking plainly without avoiding embarrassing issues. But what if the spade, while remaining a tool, is called differently in another language? While same-sex practices are rampant throughout the African Continent, claiming homosexual identity is forbidden and even condemned. The question of what constitutes ‘sex’ in Africa and, in particular, same-sex sex is still a blindspot.