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mKwetha: Vincent Mlinjana's Transition from Boy to Man 2

By andreduplessis
MKwetha Jan 09: Vincent Mlinjana outside Kwanokathula, Plettenberg Bay

Much better viewed large, thanks

Please visit the previous upload on Vincent to get the story behind this documentary image.

I uploaded this photo to show the shelter that was built for him. These days they are usually constructed from cardboard or plastic sheeting. This, and all his belongings inside. will be burned once this mKwetha period comes to an end. His little fire that he has to keep going all the time is visible in the entrance.
The white 'ifuta' that he has to cover himself with apparently functions as an deterrent againts bad spirits that might weaken his resolve to leave the 'stuff of boys' finally behind him.

Thanks
Andre

Tags: Photo journalism Black and white Portraits and people

Voters: RobboB, Briwooly, ChrisWallace and 34 more

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Comments


SlowSong Plus
8 6.5k 29 England
25 Jan 2009 10:08PM
Amazing documentary image. Incredible to see how others live when we're so used to our big cities and all mod cons.
Chris

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kombizz 11 597 1 United States
26 Jan 2009 6:06AM
I wonder if the BIGger plan of Obama (4 the world) imply to his life and wellbeing!
good one
26 Jan 2009 8:24AM
Thank you for the comments. However, this is image serves a an expression of cultural pride and tradition, and is not intended to, and hopefully does not, portray lack of wellbeing. As far as your mention of Obama - I certainly hope and believe that there might be more of an awareness and appreciation for the diversity of cultures after his term(s) are finished, for recent personal experience have left me with the impression that some sections of the western world have a rather mioptic mindset afa this. Vincent certainly told me that he is glad to assist with this, as even us white South Africans understand so little about this initiation, and the reasons why.
As I mentioned in the previous upload - his stint as a mKwetha finished last week, and I believe that he is back at school this week, completing his last year at high school, before applying to a Cape Town University to study electrical engineering.
zebraboy 12 197 Australia
26 Jan 2009 9:08AM
Brilliant, deserves a lot of attention!!
Koert 8 36 Netherlands
26 Jan 2009 10:07AM
Beautiful shot,
this photo and the other one of Vincent give a nice "inside" view of another (and for me far away) culture, without the touristy (for lack of another word) feel. I hope you know what I mean!

Well done.

Koert
26 Jan 2009 12:47PM
I know what you mean Koert. However, this was shot only just outside the town of Kwanokathula, kind of 'just turn right past the general store, and walk 200m into the bush'
Quite a privilidge to be from a place like South Africa, where first and third world is on display, walk together, and feed into one another.
I quess that one must sometimes first live away from such a society to fully appreciate this.
I remember how as a kid the mKwetha's would appear at the 2nd hole on the golf course, sell us the balls that they have picked up, and then caddy for us all the way up to the 17th hole, before they retreat back into the woods as we approach the club house. Quite a scene with 4 half-naked men dressed in sacks and painted white carrying the clubs, advising on club choice and holding the flag poles.
fauxtography 11 6.6k 36
26 Jan 2009 9:28PM
As a practising documentary photographer, this image causes me a little bit of trouble. You have had great access here, but have fallen into some very colonial and "spectacle of the other" practices with your composition and framing.

Looking down on your subject creates a power structure in the image (you are high and looking down) and can re-inforce negative stereotypes, especially with the subject matter you are covering. In this image i get no sense that you had created a connection with your subject or what was going on, it feels more like a record shot.

You've obviously got some great access here...use it, and really get to know and understand your subject, that's the key, bring your subject out, make them shine.
ToothPilot 9 50 4 United Kingdom
26 Jan 2009 9:43PM
No 30. Lets see a few more Andre.
26 Jan 2009 10:27PM
Hi Mark.
I salute your comments. It is interesting how your sentiments strike a cord with me. Africa and it's custom requires a rigid protocol. I was told that in the military, and subsequently taught the same when I participated in a more humanitarian role. And as you rightly state, looking down onto someone of respect, or elders, or whoever you meet, if you are the approaching party, begs of disrespect. I was taught that if the chief of a village might sit on his hunches - you go lower than that when you make aquintance.
My angle in these photos was purely personal, and devoid of my previous teachings. I have been taking a lot of straight-angled photos, and consulted an experienced potrait photographer on how to 'break the mould'.
My recordings of Vincents is pure, and I have tried to tell others about that perculiar custom that the Xhosa have. Vincent shares my enthusiasm.
In mitigation: Have a look at my numerous uploads, and read my narrations that accompany them. If you remain convinced that my attitude reeks of colonialism and associated sentiments, then please point out those images or narrations out to me and I shall either delete them from epz, or alternatively put up a defence.
With much appreciation, Andre
26 Jan 2009 10:28PM
Thanks Toothpilot.
fauxtography 11 6.6k 36
27 Jan 2009 9:14AM
Hi Andre, I look through your PF on a fair few occassions, Smile and just this one jumped out at me for this. It is not necessarily wrong to compose in this manner, just that sometimes you get jumped on for it. Always good to be aware of power relationships and it seems like you are Smile
27 Jan 2009 10:28AM
Thanks Mark. As I said before, you are quite right in this, and I shall keep this check in the back of my mind. Thank you for your honest critique, Andre

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