The first rule of survival in South Africa is; DON’T BE A BLACK WOMAN most definitely DON’T BE A BLACK GIRL!
We are the endangered species, our existence lies somewhere between the edge of extinction and grace of God. So when he gropes you with his hands drenched in sin, shut your mouth lest he be offended by your right to dignity.
And when he promises to split you in half and soil your insides with the evidence of his manhood bite your tongue lest he be angered by your void claim to your womanhood.
And when it is a man who passed through your birth canal or one with whom you shared a womb that makes you pray for divine currency that will allow you to buy enough breaths to sustain you till… well, tomorrow then hush your faith lest he be triggered by your humanness.
And when you can’t find a true father in the household nor on the pulpit trust you can find them knee deep in shallow graves.
This we know
What will the world look like when black women stop loving black men?
If we pull away from our own eyes the blindness brought on by our love for them, would our new sight set us free?
Would we finally see that our collective scars are maps to more than just our painful pasts?
What would the world look like if the only ‘imbokodo’ in our vocabulary was the one we used to describe the boulders we place on chests of choirs of men who sing the “not all men” broken records as a replacement for addressing their peers?
Would we finally embrace sleep knowing that the only lurkers in the night are the hoots of owls as they guard the sky?
What will the world look like when we finally realise that our collective heart beats are not cries but instead an SOS to our ancestors, the powerful women who came before us. Who shed blood holding knives blade side so that we wouldn’t have to, who broke their backs to feed us their spinal fluids so we could be strong in a society that kills those who aren’t immensely resilient.
What would the world look like when black women don’t have to bargain for their lives and begin to meet black men with the same brute force they use against us daily?
Would we hang men over all the backyards, playgrounds, parks and open fields where we’ve had to dig up the bodies of slain black women? Even though we knew there aren’t enough trees in the whole of South Africa, would we still try?
What will the world look like when black men start praying for hell because on Earth there is nowhere for them to be safe from the pure cruel rage that they instilled in and now face from black women?
I will be standing on their deformed corpses so I can yell “NOT ALL WOMEN”.
Endangered Species is a conceptual anti-women abuse project that aims to highlight how rape culture and femicide resulted in black women being an endangered demographic in South Africa. The idea behind the shoot was to depict black women meeting black men with the same fatal violence that men meet us with daily, while the text puts forth hypothetical questions that ask men to put themselves in our shoes.
Vision, Art direction & Text by Mosa Mahlaba (Find her on Twitter and Instagram)
Photography by Lebogang Ditibane (Find him on Twitter and Instagram)