The Honey is a photo se­ries that reads like a comic strip. It ex­plores young black wom­an­hood as power by artist Ren­dani Ne­makhavhani, who teamed up with pho­tog­ra­pher Kgomotso Neto Tleane to cre­ate it. They chat­ted to Gugulethu Mh­lungu about the project

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‘The Honey is a seven-part photo story based on the life and parts of a jour­ney of a black girl named Honey ... who lives out­side of the typ­i­cal ex­pec­ta­tion of how a black girl is sup­posed to be­have,” says 25-year-old Joburg-born and raised Ren­dani Ne­makhavhani about her lat­est project.

“I stud­ied graphic de­sign at the Univer­sity of Jo­han­nes­burg. I’ve al­ways been in­ter­ested in art and the cre­ative in­dus­try. I’m a lec­turer, il­lus­tra­tor as well as an art di­rec­tor by pro­fes­sion.”

The Honey has with her per­son, Gavini. This is where the male char­ac­ter is in­tro­duced. This is also where di­a­logue started hap­pen­ing in the se­ries ... Chap­ter four is where Gavini pro­poses to Honey, and he is also seen leav­ing [the se­ries].” But Ne­makhavhani says this is not the end and more will fol­low soon. The im­agery is richly shot and ef­fec­tively show­cases Honey’s nar­ra­tive. One of the most po­tent images is in the first chap­ter, where we meet Honey bran­dish­ing a sjam­bok. From the be­gin­ning, we know she can­not be messed with. The col­lec­tion has been in the mak­ing for nine months and the artists ex­plain that “this par­tic­u­lar story is im­por­tant be­cause it tells the tale of a girl whose re­al­ity sur­passes mod­ern-day ex­pec­ta­tions”. “When sto­ries about our town­ships are told, they’re told from the per­spec­tive of hard­ship and not the glo­ri­ous parts of what the town­ship, and what its lifestyle, means to us – how it has moulded many of us. “The main ques­tion here be­comes why our weak­nesses or the things that break us are put on such a high pedestal. Why can’t we bask in our beauty as is, ac­cord­ing to our own stan­dards, and not those of the world? Honey is the girl who turns her not-so-great cir­cum­stances into gold.” The over­ar­ch­ing theme in the work is un­apolo­getic black­ness, and dy­namic and nu­anced black women, and a book is be­ing planned. Un­til then, you can fol­low the life and times of Honey at all­hailthe­honey.tum­

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