Don’t be embarrassed about Gamalakhe

Ntandoyenkosi Dlamini stands outside a former bottle store, which now stands empty. She used to play nearby as a young girl.

MANY black South African youth suffer from an excessive and persistent fear of how they are perceived socially.

In social situations, they worry about how they look, their schooling, and most importantly, where they come from.

They stress about someone finding out where they were born and raised as a certain group of people might change its perception of them.

This can lead to a great deal of self-consciousness, distress and avoidance. Others may still fear and avoid a wide range of social situations.

Two trendy 20-somethings from Gamalakhe decided to show their love for their hometown using fashion and photography.

Ntandoyenkosi Dlamini takes a walk along a rural track, deep in Gamalakhe.

Ntandoyenkosi Dlamini takes a walk along a rural track, deep in Gamalakhe.

Photographer Mlamuli Jula and Ntandoyenkosi Dlamini agreed that growing up in Gamalakhe had forged some great values, and helped shaped their views and impressions when it came to fashion in particular.

For them it was a time to exercise their voices and share the values the town has.

“The main aim of this project was to inspire individuals to embrace who they are, and also to encourage them to be proud of where they come from,” said Mlamuli.

“Many of us are embarrassed about where we come from, but we have to understand that just because you come from a rural area it doesn’t mean your dreams are not valid or you don’t matter,” he said, adding that where you come from has nothing to do with the direction you are headed towards.

We have to bear in mind that the things people find weird or different about us can be our greatest strengths. I hope more people can start appreciating the places they grew up in, – Mlamuli Jula

The idea for this project came after social media ‘influencer’, Wendy Ntinezo, did a documentary on how her hometown (Orange Farm) has played a pivotal role in the woman she is becoming.

Ntandoyenkosi Dlamini in Sgodiphola, Gamalakhe.

Ntandoyenkosi Dlamini in Sgodiphola, Gamalakhe.

She did this with one of South Africa’s well-known photographers Jeffrey Rikhotsho under #tellyourstory.

This proves that there are countless young South Africans who face excessive and persistent fear of their rural upbringings but it is an individual decision to be bold and use the same environment you were once embarrassed about and flaunt it to show the value your community played in the person you are becoming.

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