Umthwalo

A Photo Series

By Mokone Mphela

Umthwalo is an isiZulu word that means load/burden/luggage.   

Umthwalo (Load) is a project in which I aim to focus on the “load” that I have experienced from losing someone close to me:  the strain caused by the death of a loved one is turned into the urge to preserve some of their belongings as a memento.  

 For those who have experienced a similar ordeal, this means: “keeping the spirit alive”.  

 Having to move on with a load which is not a physical one but rather an emotionally scarring memory represents a constant struggle to avoid breaking down while talking about it.  

 Here I set out to investigate the process of grieving: how peace can be found through identifying an object as the representation of a loved one.   

Umthwalo will explore the relation between the bereaved and the objects that represent their losses: the complexity of these relations and the visual space in between.  

 Umthwalo has been made possible thanks to the close collaboration with immediate friends and members of my extended family, thanks to their will to open up and share painful memories.   

 How long one can grieve?