Twin brothers, Justice and Innocent Mukheli, and Vuyo Mpantsha, want to show Africa through the eyes of the people who live on the continent.
As African youth they realised that Africa is not portrayed as Africans see it. Often the stories in international media are negative and told by those who don’t live in Africa. The stories, says the trio, from Pimville, Soweto, are “warped”.
Now, in a riveting photoblog, these Play Your Part Ambassadors tell their, and other Africans’, stories.
The twins and Mpantsha, friends since early childhood, started the I see a different you blog in late 2011. The blog pays homage to place, family and style, and features images shot in locations around Johannesburg, including Soweto, Yeoville, Melville and Braamfontein.
The blog includes everyday scenes from the other African countries they visit; the friends want the world to see that there is more to all of Africa, upending the many unchallenged perceptions of a poverty-stricken, strife-torn continent.
“When we started we were also inspired by the idea of changing the general perception of these places, which we know is not a true reflection. We are able to see them differently. And when we look at two sides of the story we choose to look at the positive and try to find beauty in that place,” said Justice.
The Mukheli twins, who work in advertising, take the photographs and maintain the blog in their spare time. They say they need an outlet for their creativity.
“Because we are artists, the work we do at work is not enough. We need something to clear our heads,” says Justice.
The images on I see a different you are shot in documentary style; portraying life as it is rather than the poised and posed pictures in advertising. The friends take photos of places they have been to or of subjects they have a connection with. Some photos also recreate scenes that shaped the friends’ lives; a first kiss, learning to ride a bike.
Much of the imagery is of family, showing their fathers and grandfathers dressed formally in suits and buffed brogues.
“We wanted to document our childhood and to show our family album to the world. The blog is about recreating moments we loved in our childhood,” says Justice, adding, “We are literally trying to walk in our fathers’ shoes.”
I see a different you is a testament to homegrown style and family and firmly grounded in a fiercely independent African identity.