News Brief
Image supplied by the artist

Umlilo in the documentary 'Mask'

Umlilo Unveils Queer Documentary 'Mask'

South African avant-garde artist Umlilo captures the political nuances of queer experiences in the documentary Mask.

Cape Town-based musician and all-round artist Umlilo has released his thought-provoking documentary The Black Sheep Twelfth Installment: Mask. The documentary, which goes by the simple title Mask, explores what it means to straddle gender lanes and identify as non-binary. Umlilo releases this autobiographical documentary on queer knowledge ahead of his highly-anticipated upcoming debut album Isambulo and the #LockdownJams Live concert, which gained popularity during the onset of lockdown, .

Umlilo, whose government name is Siya Ngcobo, narrates the story of his personal relationship with a mask — as both a performer and queer individual. A closer and deeper look at masks shows that they conceal the socio-political circumstances of the LGBTQI community in relation to the gender neutral reform of South Africa's identity coding on official documents. Shot in black and white, the documentary investigates the chasms that exist between government and the queer individual, and how that explicitly leads to the violence meted out on non-gender conforming individuals. Mask interrogates South Africa's neatly presented Constitution, while in reality queer individuals are exposed to various dangers, even, from government bodies such as Home Affairs.

Umlilo, brought up in a traditional yet matriarchal family, has a few alter egos and is well-versed with his mask, which always features in his performances. His electro music has garnered attention from Afropunk, VICE, Africa is a Country and many more. The symbol of the mask also reveals the painful manner in which members of the LGBTQIA++ suppress aspects of themselves for safety. Contrarily, Umlilo's performance journey depicts just how liberating the mask, when confronted and played with, can be for Black queer individuals. South Africa's introduction of a gender-neutral marker on IDs in February this year is admittedly progressive. But whether it will alleviate corrective rapes of lesbians and killings of transgender individuals remains to be seen.

Read: South African Queer Artist Umlilo Shares Striking Electro Performance

Watch Mask below.


Photo: Aisha Asamany

How Relocating to Ghana Helped Reinvigorate Jewelry Designer Aisha Asamany's Work

Moving to Ghana gave Aisha Asamany's luxury jewelry brand, inspired by Adinkra symbols that traditionally project strength, fearlessness, love and power, renewed verve to tell personal stories of her growing clientele.

In 2019, the government of Ghana made a global splash with its Year of Return initiative – the campaign sought to encourage the African diaspora to return home to the continent, specifically to Ghana.

Linked to the 400th year commemoration of the first recorded landing of slaves in the United States, it became a launchpad for the Ghanaian government to convince Black people around the world to permanently settle in the West African country.

Aisha Asamany, a corporate management consultant for high-profile UK financial institutions turned self-taught luxury jewelry designer was one of many who heeded the call, trading in the corporate life for a spiritual and an entrepreneurial journey – one of joy, appreciation, and representation in her fatherland.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox


Wizkid, Tems, Black Coffee & More Nominated For 2022 Grammy Awards

See the full list of African artists honored during Tuesday's nomination ceremony.