South Africa's Youth in 16 Portraits

Lebo Lukewarm photographs the changing youth of South Africa with the black-and-white portrait series, You Fought For Me.

Today marks 40 years since students in Soweto took to the streets to march against the Apartheid government’s implementation of Afrikaans as the main language in schools. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Soweto Uprising, Lebo Lukewarm set out to photograph the changing youth of South Africa with the black-and-white portrait series, You Fought For Me.

“More than anything, it’s a gratitude piece,” the Johannesburg-based artists tells Okayafrica. “Where we as the youth of South Africa are grateful because those who marched and died on the 16th of June ‘76.”

The photographer invited young South Africans to SunshineCo. studios in Johannesburg––who he says made the project possible––to get their photo taken and reflect on how much has changed in the 40 years since 1976. “And to see if people remember the importance of being a youth and the power we as the youth have.”

Today, for Youth Day, we’re excited to share 16 of Lebo Lukewarm’s portraits.

What does it mean to you, to be part of the youth of South Africa today?

#YouFought4Me by @lebolukewarm

"Opportunity and freedom to be whoever I choose to be, however I may choose to be. Simply; to be.”

Refiloe Seretlo / @ref1loe

#YouFought4Me by @lebolukewarm

“That I can have my cake and eat it too. I can be a wife, a mom and run my own company while woring from home. I don’t have to be someone’s domestic worker or slave. ”

Nthabiseng Sechoaro / @nthabisengsehlabo

#YouFought4Me by @lebolukewarm

“It means having the creative footprint of South African people in my hands, as my responsibility. It means differ- ent battles, but probably easier ones because the blood was taken from our mothers. It means audacity, it means chance, it means [why not?]”

Star Khulu / @starkhulu

#YouFought4Me by @lebolukewarm

"It means freedom to do what I love, versitility and diversity are everywhere I look... It’s beautiful actually!"

Bridgette Makhela / @bridgettemakhela

#YouFought4Me by @lebolukewarm

“Proud. Alive. We gon’ be alright”

Ricardo Marcus K / @ricardomarcusk

#YouFought4Me by @lebolukewarm

“It is awesome, cool, fantastic and radical”

Mabuthonker Mthanti

#YouFought4Me by @lebolukewarm

“Molifeng, being relentless in doing what you love and proving to many it can work for you. You also can never afford to lose passion, drive or commitment! Simply because complacency is affordable.”

Ayanda MVP / @ayandamvp

#YouFought4Me by @lebolukewarm

“Victory! We are the visionaries to bring vision for the next generation. Winning, living in honour of our 1976 crew.

[Black is my race]

[Yellow is my complexion]

[Ree is my colour]”

Refoe “Ree” Sofute / @in_rees_eyes

#YouFought4Me by @lebolukewarm

“Freedom of expression”

Moshibudi Mphahlele / @mosh_mph

#YouFought4Me by @lebolukewarm


Gemaén Jordan Taylor / @gemaentaylor

#YouFought4Me by @lebolukewarm

“Liberated to be anything I want to be! My identity is defined by me, not any other person who considers themselves superior because of the colour of their skin. Not ashamed to be me, Black and proud!”

Thembi Khumalo / @tpm1404

#YouFought4Me by @lebolukewarm

“It really means being able to express myself in a way that is entirely and the same time unique to me. Especially creatively as what we have seen in the past has been according to a strict set of rules.”

Njabulo Khayalethu Hlope / @dirty_native_chief

#YouFought4Me by @lebolukewarm

“It means the power is mine to decide what that dictate of my future/s is and are. That I am the start of greatness and define it for those coming after us to either finetune, refine or use as a springboard. A benchmark to more sucess. I Am Legend”

Abdui Hakeem Anderson-Lesolang /@flexboogiesa

#YouFought4Me by @lebolukewarm

“I am able to voice out my opinion without a fear of being condemed. My voice, my right, my freedom. I am able to create a future suitable and comfortable for my children VIVA!”

Khumo Molosiwa / @khumomolosiwa

#YouFought4Me by @lebolukewarm

“I deem it an honour to be a part of the South African youth of today, because we’re changing so much of the South Africa we grew up in. We’re making moves to change the political landscape and not just accepting the status quo. I love being a part of a youth that exists to make changes for the better.”

Luke Bennett / @lukeswork

#YouFought4Me by @lebolukewarm

"Abundant opportunities, dreaming in an unlimited way, perserverance, passion and watching your dreams come true!”

Zwelethu Ndlovu / @justzweli

Image by Londeka Thabethe.

Spotlight: Meet the South African Street Photographer Capturing Photos of Black Life in the Johannesburg CBD

We chat to emerging South African photographer Londeka Thabethe about her work and her interest in taxis and commuters in and around central Johannesburg.

Londeka Thabethe insists on stating her favorite hip-hop producer is J Dilla. "I will take no slander about the god, may he rest in beats," she tells OkayAfrica in an interview about her photography.

During her birth month this year, the emerging South African photographer from Estcourt in KwaZulu Natal opened her solo exhibition at Durban's Distillery 031 venue. Titled 4:4 Mas'hlalisane, the exhibition showcased a series of images depicting the Joburg inner city and the country's most used mode of public transport—(minibus) taxis.

Keep reading... Show less
Image courtesy of the artist.

In 'Aba Women Riot' Nigerian Artist, Fred Martins, Reinterprets a Groundbreaking Moment In African History

In a new series of prints, the artist celebrates 'the women who lend their voices and stood strong against the oppression of Africans.'

March marks Women's History Month, and for African women, one event that epitomizes the will and tenacity within our community is the Aba Women's Riot, also known as The Women's War of 1929, in which thousands of predominantly Igbo women in eastern Nigeria mobilized to challenge British colonial rule and the barriers placed on women's civic life.

This paradigm-shifting moment in history is the center of the latest series from Nigerian visual artist Fred Martins, who began conceptualizing "Aba Women Riot" in 2019, while reflecting on the invaluable contributions women have made throughout history. "I reflected on the power of femininity and how it has affected history on every stage and era of human civilization," said the artist in a statement.

Keep reading... Show less
Cover art of "Banjo".

Watch Cameroonian Drag Artist Bebe Zahara Benet's New Music Video for 'Banjo'

Video Premiere: Bebe Zahara Benet releases the colourful visuals for her latest single 'Banjo' ahead of her upcoming EP 'Broken English'.

Cameroonian drag artist Bebe Zahara Benet has just released the colourful visuals to her latest single 'Banjo'.

The single, which features on her upcoming Broken English EP, is the follow-up to several EPs she's released in the past including Face and Kisses & Feathers as well as a number of singles including "Fun Tonite", "Get Fierce (Lose Yourself)" and "Starting a Fire".

Keep reading... Show less

8 South African Albums & EPs to Stream While Staying Home

Let these South African releases from Bongeziwe Mabandla, Shabaka and the Ancestors, King Monada and others hold you down during lockdown.

This month saw a number of releases from South African artists. While the COVID-19 pandemic has taken money away from a majority of artists, this could be the best time for listeners to go through the new music that was released.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox