BNM ART Centre

(I recently found a document I worked on in 2017 planning the art centre when I still lived in Johannesburg, this was like my final edit from the one I did in 2014)

Bavulele Ntsikhwe Mbokazi Art centre



My mother’s land in Mount Frere -emabobo


My mother Wendy Priscilla known as Lolo, nomloks OR Mangwanya was a strong women, a woman who was feared even by men as she never took any bull from any man. Yes she was a bull indeed her star sign being Taurus . When she put her mind to something, she did it. She later took on the calling of becoming a sangoma. She was then given the name Bavulele meaning (open for them), she was a woman who never let any opportunities pass her by.  She was different and meant differently to people around her. To me she was my mother.

My grandmother maMbokazi was an artist she made and sold izicamba, iingobozo nenqayi to make ends meet at home. She planted maize, amabele, sugar beans in the outer field. Closer to the house we had potatoes, spring onions, tomatoes, cabbage and spinach. She was our mother as our parents had to be in the big cities like Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg working.  For eleven months she was our mother and our father, she never took a break even when our mothers, uncles and aunts returned.

My grandfather Ntsikhwe was a man of many talents he tamed vicious dogs, herded cattle and had super powers. My grandfather lived with his second wife, so we hardly saw him. When he did visit he never sat down, he would take his dogs and go collect clay for my grandmother, drop it off and then he would go and get the grass she use to make izicamba with.

They would then sit, have tea together and we would eat together and he would take his dogs and his sticks and go. That’s my recollection of him.  He requested to be laid to rest where ever he would be, so it was at my mother’s resident as he was the first to leave us.

My nephew, my angel, my son, my light who died soon after his birth. I call him my angel because if he did not pass I would have not met my dad. The second reason is that my daughter was born exactly 10 years later from his birth on the exact day and exact month.

They all lie in these grounds

My vision

To open an art school / Xhosa experience guest house

(There’s a primary school close by the house)


After school care / homework assistance /reading and writing

Art classes drawing /painting/ photography /pottery /crafts /beading/sewing/ music/ drama/ Agriculture

Vegetable Garden

Children would learn how to plant and look after the garden themselves.

This is the garden that would i feed them when they come from school, food would be ready before any activities take place.


Artwork to be shown at the Grahamstown art festival

Writings to be published

Writers and artists to collaborate in putting the book together

To sell locally the grass Mats and beer pots to assist paying school fees

Garden to eat from

Show and tell every Friday

Invite the parents to come and see the artworks /theatre pieces/poetry /story telling

Once a month have a feast optional

Where the whole community would come and see what their children do at the art centre and a sheep would be slaughtered and abogogo and abomkhulu will come and share stories with us.

How it would work

Create a website where people could sign up and pay for it from all over the world to come for a period of 1-3 months to come and volunteer whatever skill they may have and international \national volunteers they get accommodation and meals nothing special but a Xhosa experience eat what we eat fetch water from the river or tap do washing with hands. Cook with us.

Guest house /retreat

Writers or anybody could sign up to be at the guest house in one of the huts to get away from the city buzz and just be alone to think ,write a book or find inner peace . They would choose to have electricity or not

To take part in the day to day running or not

Be served 3 Meals per day traditional

Field trips

Would include watching the boys coming from the mountain feasts

Trip into town

Trip to fetch wood in the forest

Trips to fetch water

Learning about the Xhosa people

Chubby Vogue Diva #35

Mbali Nokuthula Siphesihle Nompumelelo Bathokozile Angela Patricia Mlangeni.

How does one child embody all those names?

I have been blessed in life with the love, beautiful experiences, harrowing trials, and the grace to keep going.

I am a child of God. I grew up in the Catholic Church, went to an Anglican girls school, and am a believer of Christ. That has been my saving grace, through Him is how I survive.

I grew up in the United States of America, for 10 years of my life I was a New Yorker in every part of my being and I loved it. I am a Swati, a Zulu, and according to my upbringing I’ve been deemed an honorary American. And I am a big girl.

In my early years I was an average sized little child, but as I grew so did my circumference. I gravitated towards baggy clothing and became the quintessential tomboy. Now I can’t say for sure whether or not this was my means of dealing with my larger than life body or a look I genuinely loved, but it was my reality.

Family can unintentionally influence how you see yourself. “Cover your arms”, my mom would say, sewing the seed of self-consciousness that I still possess to this day. So it might be one of the influences that led me to hide behind oversized shapeless clothes.

One day in my first year at varsity a friend reprimanded me telling  me that I could not dress the same as my boyfriend. We went shopping  and looking for items that flattered as opposed to hid me. I suppose that was my turning point. Some one pictured me as more and inspired me to aspire to be more.

I started playing with my look and learning to dress for my body. It helped build my confidence in ways I never imagined. Not say it skyrocketed to new heights, but there was a change. Taking part in this photo shoot was another such experience. It allowed me to see myself in a different light and afforded me to embrace my figure even more, I saw myself as beautiful, a word in generally shy away from.

Chubby Vogue Diva #34

It’s funny how it still stings a little when one calls me FAT. I’ve heard that all my life and was nurtured and groomed to dress for my body, of which I’m grateful for.

This is my story…

My name is Phaello Matitoane but known as Phaello Rain Tshabalala on social media. – that’s another story for another day. Nonetheless, I was born in Pretoria and raised in a small awesome town called Welkom in the Free State, Thabong, next to Shopong tsa Kgale. Home.

My father is a business man and mother in sales but raised by my grandmother, the queen herself. Funny thing is she always used to tell me to wear a belt for my tummy or dress properly from a very young age, this being the stage I learned to always “breath in” in an effort to make my tummy appear smaller. So with her it didn’t bother me at all because I knew she was looking out for me…she knew, she knew how cruel people can be, how words can bring a person down.

I attended primary school at Welkom Islamic school. Like being fat wasn’t bad enough, I now was in a

Muslim school which uniform added 5kg extra with all the fabric. I made it through though and actually gained good friends whom are amazing people by the way….

And then there was high school… Boy oh Boy!!!

Now I was amongst all sorts of kids, it was difficult at first to fit in as I’ve always really been a loner, and didn’t think I’d  fit in anywhere. All I was, was that “white fat girl that stays at that big white house” haha pretty funny actually. It was difficult at first because I was laughed at a lot. If it’s not my ugly head it’s my weight or my overly pale skin. But again, life has a way of throwing things at you, I made it through all of that. I later decided to be freer, confident, that’s when I joint the school choir, netball and eventually was a Deputy Head RCL at the school. Since then I developed a sense of love for myself because happiness has no size really, it’s needed and you are responsible for it. No one else.

My advice….. It’s not easy to say you love your body especially when society describes beauty as the opposite of you. I’ve come to be at peace with my body and accepted it as it is.  Yes I still breath in and yes I wear my vest to keep everything in its place.

 If you are not HAPPY with yours then change it so that you become happy.

 Im happy. Are you?





Chubby Vogue Diva #33

Earlier this year my cousin gave me a print material. We call them African prints these days I do not think anyone even cares to research where some of these prints come from including me. The past two months I have been looking for cool designs of dresses, pants and jackets looking for something that I would like. While searching I bumped into an out fit which was three piece a shirt and pants that goes with a hat all made of the same material and this picture took me back. This picture reminded me of this lady called Margaret from Uganda, she use to sell table cloths and couch covers to my mother while growing up in Eastern Cape in a small town called Butterworth. By the way my name is Chwayita and my surname is Kaule. Margaret would also bring the three-piece made from the material from Uganda and my mother without fail bought it for me. I was not the only one who wore that three piece by the way but when I wore it things were different because I am dark skinned so automatically people assumed that I too was from Uganda. That assumption was the beginning of my journey of hate for my skin tone and myself. I know that is not something that should bring one down but colorism is a huge problem in the black community. The thing is we can buy from the ladies from Uganda or any other neighboring country but looking like them now that is a problem.

By the time I was 8 years old I knew that I was different and I am treated differently because of my skin tone. It didn’t help that I was always teased for it, called names and that being dark meant I was ugly and I fall in the low level. I kept on growing with my self hate by the time I was 14 years old I was walking around praying and hoping that someone out there would love this skin tone so that I can also love it. Be careful for what you wish for, Indeed I met boy that liked me and another one followed and then next one followed and all seemed okay that now I too was accepted for the first time in my life. I remember my aunt visiting me and telling me that white men liked dark skinned women so I most likely to marry one in one condition though that I do not gain weight. So in all those relationships I made sure that I do not gain weight at least now the black guys have noticed me and if I stayed small the white men would come and eventually save me from my misery of being dark. It would be even better for my kids not to be black and dark skinned so that they never have to go through what I went through.

When I turned 16 years old everything took for a turn when I gained a lot of weight. Now I am not only dark but also now fat, I felt like God failed me with giving me a dark skin but now he also failed me by giving me a body that would gain weight just when the black guys were starting to like me. As for me marrying a white man that was now off the table for me.

Today is the 27 March 2017 its four days before my 28th birthday. Two days ago I had a photo-shoot with Chubby vogue and I met myself for the first time after 11 years of searching and waiting for someone to love me so that I can also love me. When a good friend of mine asked me to do this photo-shoot I first felt weird about it because I would have to deal with my body and skin tone. I would have to deal with the body that failed me years ago. The body that did not allow the white man to come save me and the black man to love me. Loving and accepting comes with conditions for me, I will only love myself when I loose this weight or when that changes or when someone else accepts me. So on the 25th March I did the photo-shoot with uncertainty of what will be the outcome or what will happen. Something strange happened that day a new journey with myself started, a journey of unlearning the lies about myself and accepting the truth about myself.

During the photo shoot I met a beautiful dark skinned woman who is also plus size. I do not know about tomorrow or the day after what I know is that today this who I am. I am still getting use to the change, I am aware of the work that still needs to be done in learning and unlearning things about myself. I am forever grateful of the opportunity of sharing my story through word and photography because in my story I find meaning and matter.

My advice is learn to be You, Love You, in all Your Ways, Always.


Charmain Carrol Photography Calendar Project

 Part of the work I did last year was to work with a group of young Girls from Rammolotsi My Kasi my Story project by Global Girls Media South Africa, gathering images and portfolios of organisations under the Umbrella of Tekatekano 4 Women network. This was an amazing journey with the young community  journalist and with the different Organisations I visited.

Tekatekano Women’s Disability Network is a registered NPO started in 2010, comprising of women with disabilities and mothers of children with disabilities from six  Fezile Dabi towns. These towns all have Functioning organisations for people with disabilities and each local Tekatano grouping gives empetus, visability and voice to the women in the respective context.

The key objective of the network is to provide mutual support across towns, additional assistance to enable the women to find solutions to their disability-related problems and create inspirational precedents for women-led project.

These are some of the images taken:

A Big Big Thank you to Ponahalo De Beers who made it possible to do this project. To all the beautiful women and men I met in my journey, to Global Girl Media SA…. Thank you so much.

This was the outcome of all the beautiful travels, 2017 Calendar

2017 Tekatekano 4 Women Calendar (1)