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African Queen

Ondria Hardin in Numero magazine

Ondria Hardin in Numero magazine

I recently read about a bit of controversy with Numéro magazine because they featured the above picture in an editorial.

The picture features 16-year-old, blond-haired, blue-eyed model, Ondria Hardin, who was covered in bronzer for the shoot. The magazine was then criticised for their decision to use a white model instead of “a more ethnic” one. This went so far that the magazine had to issue a statement apologising, saying:

“The artistic statement of the photographer Sebastian Kim, author of this editorial, is in line with his previous photographic creations, which insist on the melting pot and the mix of cultures, the exact opposite of any skin color based discrimination.  Numéro has always supported the artistic freedom of the talented photographers who work with the magazine to illustrate its pages, and has not took part in the creation process of this editorial….Considering the turmoil caused by this publication, the Management of Numéro Magazine would like to apologize to anyone who may have been offended by this editorial.”

Needless to say, a debate sprung up faster than you could say “bingo!”. Reading through the comments underneath this story, it was interesting to see all the different view points.

  • Some African American readers were offended because they felt this was a representation of “blackface“. This, is a form of theatrical makeup popular in the 19th century, where performers created a stereotyped caricature of a black person. The usual stereotype being the “happy-go-lucky darkie on the plantation” or the “dandified coon”. (Can we really compare this to blackface?)
  • Another reader explained that people are offended because they chose to use a blonde, blue-eyed, American model in bronzer, to represent a continent that is predominantly black. (Should they then have used an African model?)
  • A (presumably white) reader asked the question, Why are black women mad when they make a white model look more African, but white women are not mad when African women are modelled with blonde weaves and bleached skins?
  • A few other African American readers felt that, whereas “blackface” was used to caricature and therefore make fun of Africans, this was not intended in the same way. One said that, seeing as the model looks gorgeous and African American women have been using make up to look “whiter” for years, this shows some level of equality and she’s happy to see other races trying to emulate the African look. “Let the white girl play in black makeup! We got more important shit to worry about!” (Is it really a compliment, or does taking it as a compliment show a lack of pride in how you, as an African woman, are portrayed in the media?)
  • Another reader felt that this was being blown way out of proportion, because (suprise, suprise), “there are white women born in Africa too!”

That last comment, my favourite one by far, got me thinking…

So maybe she’s not representing a black women. Maybe she’s representing a white, African woman. Maybe she’s representing the idea that, with all the white women tanning and black women bleaching their skins, very soon there will be no difference between us. Or…Maybe she’s representing the blending of cultures and influences that is inevitable in a continent that is full of so many different people. Is it not all in how we choose to see it?

Yes, the white people came to Africa from Europe and the Americas, but how many centuries and how many generations must pass, before their children’s children’s children (who are born of the soil and the unique blended culture), are considered Africans? And if they are considered Africans, why can they not be African queens? Are white people born in Africa going to be considered migrants until the end of time? (the same way a lot of different cultures are still considered foreigners in America today). And if that is the case, how does this viewpoint bode well for Africa’s children and their future in any way??

Africa’s story, is so full of blood and anger and hatred and division…so can’t we, just this once, choose to see the glass as half full?

My question for today is, why can’t little black girls AND little white girls born of this continent, dream of being African Queens?

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L.O.V.3

Love, in all its forms and shapes is always difficult.

This is the part that they don’t tell you when they write those Disney fairytales, but you will most likely learn it as soon as you fall in love and learn that Prince Charming scratches his arse, leaves the cap off the toothpaste and takes off his socks right where he is standing. This is also probably around the time you will realise that although it is not what you were promised, LOVE, in all its forms, has always been the same and has always remained as beautiful as you’ve always thought it to be.

If love is a lie, best believe that it is the most beautiful lie that we have, so today I encourage you to see and find love wherever you look and wherever you are. It doesn’t have to be with your signficant other, it can simply be the caring colleague who brings you coffee in the morning, the hug your little baby gives you when you drop him/her off at daycare or the sms you get saying “Good Morning”. How about the guy making a mixtape for his girl or the little girl who’s kissing her puppy? The little boy who’s watching his dad shave maybe, or the mom who’s dancing with her little girl. Somewhere out there today, there is a father who’s listening to his daughter’s stories with love in his eyes and a married couple dancing. The best for me, is the picture of the parents taking their child trick-or-treating, all wearing costumes from the same children’s movie…can you say BEST. PARENTS. EVER.??

Look around you and see it all around… That Carrie & Bigg kinda love, that Bonnie & Clyde type ish, that Romeo & Juliet kinda thing. That moment when you see a mother and her child holding hands. That moment when a new couple is so wrapped up in each other, the rest of the world disappears. That moment when you see that 80 year-old couple sitting at their regular table having lunch, everyday.

LOVE is even more beautiful when it can be captured and kept forever…

Here are a few pics I’ve come across that inspire that loving feeling in me:

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Oscar Pistorius Shoots & Kills Girlfriend

I was very saddened to hear that in the early hours of this morning, Oscar Pistorius, South African gold medalist, shot and killed his girlfriend.

 

Before you all get yourselves in a tizzy, it was allegedly an accident.

He thought she was a burglar, shot her in the head and arm and she died on the scene.

Oscar is currently in custody and the whole event is being investigated.

Oscar Pistorius

Oscar, a six-time paralympian and a trail blazer in the world of para- and olympic sports, is a hero the world over and is currently being featured in an M-Net ad campaign to promote the “Oscar” Awards coming up one day soon.

I apologise for starting off your Valentine’s Day on such a sad note.


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The 2013 Sony World Photography Awards

The 2013 Sony World Photography Awards are an annual competition hosted by the World Photography Organisation (WPO), which allows everyone from amateurs to the professionals to showcase their work and compete with others in their field.

The competition is open to anyone, from any background or experience level and of all ages. There were more than 122 000 entries this year, from over 170 different countries and the WPO has recently announced its shortlist of finalists.

There are three different sectors and within each sector there are categories into which the photographs are divided.

Within the Professional (for the serious photographers with a true passion for the job), the Open (for the amateurs and  photography enthusiasts) and the Youth sectors, the photographs can be divided into the following categories:

  • Architecture
  • Arts & Culture
  • Campaign
  • Conceptual
  • Contemporary Issues
  • Current Affairs
  • Enhanced
  • Fashion & Beauty
  • Landscape
  • Lifestyle
  • Low Light
  • Nature & Wildlife
  • Panoramic
  • People
  • Portraiture
  • Split Second
  • Sport
  • Still Life
  • Travel

With a Basic Membership you can enter up to 3 photographs, with an Advanced Membership, you can enter up to 8 photographs and with a Premium Membership you can enter up to 20 photographs.

This is for people who are creative and passionate, those who understand the art of “taking pictures, documenting a story, conceptualising an idea, capturing emotions and evoking a response” from the viewers.

The winners will be announced in March/April, but for now, here are some of the finalists:

Ali Asadi, Iran 2013

Ali Asadi, Iran 2013

Christian Vizl, Mexico, 2013

Christian Vizl, Mexico, 2013

Andrea Gjestvang, Norway, 2013

Andrea Gjestvang, Norway, 2013

John Matzick, USA, 2013

John Matzick, USA, 2013

Jose Ramon Moreno, Spain, 2013

Jose Ramon Moreno, Spain, 2013

Alecsandra Dragoi, Romania, 2013

Alecsandra Dragoi, Romania, 2013

Adam Pretty, Olympic Park, July 25, 2012

Adam Pretty, Olympic Park, July 25, 2012

Marek Andrzejewski, Poland, 2013

Marek Andrzejewski, Poland, 2013

Gali Tibbon, Israel, 2013

Gali Tibbon, Israel, 2013

Nathan Wills, Australia, 2013

Nathan Wills, Australia, 2013

The Niger Delta, Nigeria, October 2012Dr Lekwe Deezia claims to heal mental illness through the power of prayer and traditional herbal meds. While receiving treatment, which can take months, patients are chained to trees in his courtyard. No shelter. They are sometimes beaten.

The Niger Delta, Nigeria, October 2012
Dr Lekwe Deezia claims to heal mental illness through the power of prayer and traditional herbal meds. While receiving treatment, which can take months, patients are chained to trees in his courtyard. No shelter. They are sometimes beaten.

Roberto Bettacchi, Italy, 2013

Roberto Bettacchi, Italy, 2013

Johannes Heuckeroth, Germany, 2013Aerial view of surreal world of Dubai

Johannes Heuckeroth, Germany, 2013
Aerial view of surreal world of Dubai

Tatjana Bachmistova, Lithuania, 2013

Tatjana Bachmistova, Lithuania, 2013

Robert Gifford, UK, 2013

Robert Gifford, UK, 2013

Reza Nezamdust, Iran, 2013 (Tradition)

Reza Nezamdust, Iran, 2013 (Tradition)

Val Proudki, USA, 2013

Val Proudki, USA, 2013