A Portrait of Hardship









In Thandie Newton’s latest tweet, she introduced me to Lionel Smit’s portrait “Kholiswa” and Redi Tlhabi’s book ‘Endings and beginnings’:


I was curious to find out what the connection was between the two. After some research, I found both pieces touched upon the hardship faced by South African women. As the National Portrait Gallery summarizes  it, the portrait of Kholiswa, a waitress in Cape Town, “captures the essence of her life – including the long distances she travels to work and her struggles as a single mother.” This can only be truly and fully appreciated once you understand the atrocities  faced by many of the women living in South Africa as told by Redi Tlhabi. In “Endings & Beginnings,” Tlhabi relates her own upbringing, the violence faced by children and women, and her chance friendship with Mabegzo, a local gangster. Tlhabi prefaces her book that “[i]n sharing Mabegzo with the world, I hope this book will offer some insights on the effects of trauma and how it often morphs the child into a hardened adult. My fervent belief that social conditions create the monsters who terrorise our lives and make us prisoners in our own country has made me curious about their background.” Thus, I was left to imagine that perhaps the waitress Kholiswa’s is also one of those many single mothers with a morphed childhood, left to care for her own child after being raped and left to travel those long distances.

I hope Thandie opens a dialog with her fans about the book and the portrait in her upcoming blog ThandieKay.

source: National Portrait Gallery, google images

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