- 26 August 2020 - 13 September 2020
- Main Gallery
Statement by Baja La Dhlamini Sidzumo, exhibition curator:
"At the height of gender-based violence in South Africa where women and children become victims/ survivors of brutal crimes – raped, beaten, left destitute, or even murdered. This has been the saddest reality of our lives. Instead of projecting this plight, the photographer has taken a stance to portray elderly women in a celebratory manner where positive imagery is shared.
Lizzie ZiqubuM, is a 53-year-old photographer from Umlazi, Durban. She is a mother of three, grandmother of four and the 7th child in a family of eleven. Like most children of black families in South Africa during the apartheid era, she was raised by her grandmother because the mother had to work as a stay in domestic worker.
As the country celebrates August – Women’s Month, the photographer recognises Senior Citizens by putting Ogogo on the fore; women who are often pillars of families and raise generations of children in their homes and communities with little acknowledgement.
From a five-year-long documentation and archive of Ogogo (senior citizens), the exhibition showcases colour and black & white portraits captured from the neighbourhood and beyond where she has been. ZiqubuM is paying tribute to the treasures of our society. The show also aims at recognising the participant’s contributions, highlighting beauty, health consciousness, sensitivity, vulnerability and resilience of their existence with portraits of individuals born between 1917 to 1950."
“A village without the elderly is like a well without water” - African proverb
Lizzie ZiqubuM’s love for senior citizens project started way back in the early 90s, while she was studying Care for the Aged, Children and the Handicapped at the LC Johnson Technical College currently known as FET College in Umbilo campus, in Durban. This relationship was further cemented during her weekly training at Issy Geshen old aged home, located in Lamontville township, where she spent most of her time caring for senior people. This included but was not limited to listening to their stories, not knowing that one day she would find a way to tell those stories.
ZiqubuM studied Photojournalism and Documentary in photography (PDP) at the Market Photo Workshop from 2015 to 2017. This is where she discovered her voice in storytelling through a photographic lens. She found a way of telling stories about past experiences with senior people, documenting their lives through photography. With the help of Bahle Care for the Aged, she managed to reach a variety of senior citizens who were participating in different activities. These included sewing, playing soccer, aerobics and taking part in Golden Games. ZiqubuM is the sole documenter of events that include senior people in and around KwaZulu-Natal. She is also involved with other activities like exercising, organising football matches and other social activities with different groups of senior people in South Africa and neighbouring countries.
ZiqubuM’s aim with this continuous project is to teach the younger generation the importance of valuing senior people at home and in the community. As they get older they suffer from different illnesses which can lead to dementia and related effects. These conditions are generally misunderstood in our communities and often attributed to witchcraft. This has resulted in senior people being inappropriately labelled, ostracized or even killed. Seeing the pain most of them experience, ZiqubuM avoids the term “old people” due to the stigma attached and many of them find the expression offensive. She calls them “golden agers” because to have an elderly person in the family, is to have a golden opportunity to gain valuable life lessons because they grow wiser as they age.
ZiqubuM enjoys every moment she spends with senior people because she learns more about culture, religion, politics and different backgrounds. She documents golden agers from different walks of life, regardless of their education levels or cultural and religious beliefs. Each golden ager has her own story to tell in her own way; which contributes to ZiqubuM’s own mental growth as she continuously learns new things every time she spends with them. Documenting the golden agers in their own familiar space has helped her get brilliant images. She documents them in their surroundings with things they enjoy doing; and around people they love. ZiqubuM highlights their achievements in different fields of life; thus retaining their pride and joy. She captures group images when the golden agers are together and participating in various activities that they enjoy. This is the part that makes ZiqubuM enjoy her photography even more.