Style

Photos: Word to the Womyn of Colour

'Word to the Womyn of Colour' is a powerful storybook of Black womyn’s magic and creative prowess.

For Palesa Kgasane, a never-ending pursuit to curate African stories finds one of its platforms in Mzansi Moodboard.


When she’s not doing her regular 9-to-5 job in the creative corporate sphere, the 23-year-old fashion fiend has been working on a fresh new website, which scrolls like a multi-layered and timeless storybook of black womyn’s magic and creative prowess. Kgasane’s latest collaboration with the likes of author, actor, activist Buhle Ngaba and a multitude of Cape Town’s black womyn creatives includes a photo series and a short film.

The fashion film, Spring in Mzansi, brings these vivid portraits to life. You can hear Kgasane’s ethereal voice summoning the motion of spring, overlaid with the endless beauty of the Atlantic Ocean. Kgasane makes a point to accentuate the infinite possibilities of black womyn’s beauty.

We caught up with the Mzansi Moodboard curator at the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town to discuss the revamped website and her new series of works.

Word To The Womyn Of Colour II, a photographic collaboration by The Mzansi Moodboard and Neo Baepi.

The following interview has been edited and condensed.

Where do you hail from and how does this place influence your curation of Mzansi Moodboard?

I was born in Bloemfontein, a small little city in the Free State. I think my family and my household has always been very creative, very expressive. That really influenced my love of culture and music and even fashion. I’m Sotho-Tswana. If it’s like a traditional ceremony of some sort, we would always dress in our attire and I really started becoming super in love with how unique all of it is.

My Sotho-Tswana heritage has definitely influenced the way I see fashion, the way I want to represent myself and the kind of content I want to create. There are so many spaces that aren’t explored within South Africa’s cultural diaspora. Being African is an inspiration in itself. I feel like there will never be an end to being able to curate African stories. I am so inspired by being African and being South African and being a Black woman right now. And I think it’s a good time to tap into your Blackness. It’s a difficult time, but it’s a good time.

How has the shift in seasons influenced your new website?

The colour yellow is just beautiful; it makes you smile. Every time I think of the story that goes behind what I choose, I become obsessed with the colour—my Instagram starts taking the form of the colour. Because I’m a Vogue addict, I’m trying to create a multidisciplinary platform that will embody that, but have it so African that people who are in America and Europe will look at Mzansi Moodboard and be like “Oh my god, these people have sick style, these artists are amazing.”

It represents what spring would be in Africa, how the sun represents purity and happiness and cleansing. And with every colour that I choose there is definitely a personal linkage to it. It also has to do with what’s trending and what’s appropriate for the season.

Word To The Womyn Of Colour II, a photographic collaboration by The Mzansi Moodboard and Neo Baepi.

Who are the womyn of colour you collaborated with on your new photo series?

Buhle Ngaba, the author of “Girl Without a Sound,” she is such an incredible young woman. She’s created a relatable way of expressing herself.

Then there’s Eden Myrrh. I like people who don’t limit themselves in terms of creativity—she does amazing things with visuals, she’s also super fashionable and she has an amazing voice. She plays like four instruments.

I’ve also got Leo [Makgekgenene], she’s an amazing designer.

Lenina Parks, she’s a current fashion muse for brands right now. In a lot of ways, all the womyn of colour are my personal muses. She’s also an illustrator and is someone who is breaking boundaries in terms of pushing the body positivity movement. She also embraces her quirks.

I put a group of womyn together whom I knew would be representative of a lot of girls and that’s why I even put myself there. I want for people to look at Mzansi Moodboard and be like “Wow, I’m looking forward to the next issue because I’m going to see a part of myself in whatever is being created.”

In what ways do you explore spring and nostalgia in your new short fashion film?

It’s almost like a catharsis creating the film. I definitely played with elements of nature. The theme of nostalgia, having been in Cape Town for the past year, and Cape Town being a place that I frequented in summer and spring visiting my grandmother, the beach always signified light and love and purity. Nostalgia is about more feelings than description.

Why is it important for you to cultivate a space for creative womyn of colour?

The world has never created a space for young black womyn of colour. I think that if I can’t do it, if other black womyn can’t do it, who else is gonna tell my story? It’s about chronicling every single thing that I have found beautiful and important and heartbreaking and inspiring about being black and a womyn, but doing it on my own terms.

Keep up with The Mzansi Moodboard on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Check out more photos from Word To The Womyn Of Colour II below and head here for the full series.

Word To The Womyn Of Colour II, a photographic collaboration by The Mzansi Moodboard and Neo Baepi.

Word To The Womyn Of Colour II, a photographic collaboration by The Mzansi Moodboard and Neo Baepi.

Word To The Womyn Of Colour II, a photographic collaboration by The Mzansi Moodboard and Neo Baepi.

Word To The Womyn Of Colour II, a photographic collaboration by The Mzansi Moodboard and Neo Baepi.

Word To The Womyn Of Colour II, a photographic collaboration by The Mzansi Moodboard and Neo Baepi.

Word To The Womyn Of Colour II, a photographic collaboration by The Mzansi Moodboard and Neo Baepi.

Word To The Womyn Of Colour II, a photographic collaboration by The Mzansi Moodboard and Neo Baepi.

Word To The Womyn Of Colour II, a photographic collaboration by The Mzansi Moodboard and Neo Baepi.

Word To The Womyn Of Colour II, a photographic collaboration by The Mzansi Moodboard and Neo Baepi.

Word To The Womyn Of Colour II, a photographic collaboration by The Mzansi Moodboard and Neo Baepi.

Chaze has got Zambian roots and is currently making the most out of a polyamorous relationship between poetry, photography and documentary filmmaking in Cape Town.

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