AND THE LIGHT
Cape Town-based photographer Thembela “Nymless” Ngayi recently released a photo essay titled The Great African Horror Story that constructs a series of scenes to tackle his struggles with mental health, blackness and masculinity in the hope that he can raise more awareness and understanding of depression.
“In society, men, especially in black communities, often feel unable to reach out because of the stigma attached to symptoms of any mental condition, as well as the stereotypical thinking entrenched by society on how men are supposed to behave,” Ngayi told #Trending.
“Seeking help or showing signs of any emotion, like crying, is immediately perceived to be weak. The result is we end up seeking comfort in alcohol. Some men resort to spousal abuse as a way to validate their masculinity, while others go to extreme lengths, such as suicide.”
Another young photographer, Tsoku Maela, captures his own experience in Abstract Peaces, a visual diary of a person during different stages of depression.
“I have struggled with manic depression and anxiety my whole life, but have only recently found the courage to open up about it to my family,” Maela says in the essay that accompanies his series.
“They may not understand what it is, but they understand me better as a person. Depression isn’t all doom and gloom; there is so much beauty to be drawn from it. It’s an opportunity to learn about yourself and how your intricate mind works – and the reason it works the way it does. We’ve been indoctrinated to run away from the dark and towards the light, to embrace our virtues and ignore our vices, like they came from out there somewhere and are not part of our biological, genetic and spiritual make-up.”
Maela describes his call-to-photography as a “run towards the darkness”, and so it is through his work, and that of countless other embattled artists, that the healing process of the artists and their audiences can begin.
THE GREAT AFRICAN HORROR STORY In his monochrome photo essay, Cape Town-based photographer Thembela Ngayi portrays the torment and effect that depression has on African families