A Different Kind of Normal with Tutu Zondo

South Africa, Africa, the world really is at such an important place creatively where people are tired of seeing the same old narrative being told. We’re now living in a society where marginalized voices are speaking up and wanting to be heard, they want their stories to be told, they want their stories to stand tall and proud.

So it’s only fitting that a group of young creative people emerge and try to make these voices heard and here in Africa it’s extremely important that we allow the voices of the young black creative to shine and that’s one of Tutu Zondo’s mission in life. Tutu who describes himself as a storyteller that allows the stories to dedicate what medium they want to be told in, be it photography, film, theatre, literature, music, and fashion. Tutu who founded the OTA PROJECT in 2015, has done two creative showcases the OTA Hathor and OTA Double Yellow, he has done a photo series for A Nasty Boy, a Nigerian LGBT publication – Velvet Revolution. A play at wits theatre titled Through Her Eyes and Echoes of a Silenced Girl – an okay and talk series around Johannesburg.

He is seeking to bring a spotlight on untold stories by untold people, being a creative he knows that it’s not about a singular being in order to achieve the goal but it’s about collaboration. Never seeking to work in isolation, he collaborates with other young black creative people who know that each story needs to be told in its own unique and specific way. Tutu and his collaborators seek to bring stories that were trapped in the dark for a long time into the light and want to tell the quiet stories, not just the stories with big social messages, stories about young black females who enjoy books need their voices to be heard. Living in a country like South Africa with high femicide rates, and understanding the black queer person’s struggle personally, he knows how important it is to tell stories of the unheard and marginalized (mainly being the black females and black queers).

South Africa and the rest of Africa is at this turning point creatively, politically and socially, creating this vacuum that wants to be filled with new voices, and audiences are finally at a point to accept the new voices, they crave something more to relate to, to be inspired by and to follow. What Tutu is trying to do is give audiences what they want, a different kind of normal, a normal where a black trans woman can play a female lead in a South African telenovela, a different kind of normal where different is no longer taboo. Looking to bypass a system that deems certain stories unworthy, Tutu wants to create a world in which the voices of these stories can be appreciated and know that they are worthy because it’s what the world needs. It needs stories that will unite the continent with these themes, create empathy amongst the nation, take us back to our roots and link us to our basic human need – connection.

Very practically I think what I want to achieve is a place where we can actually start telling these untold stories, these stories that were in the darkness for so long on the mainstream, I want diversity in every sense of the word to become something that is so regulated and normalized for us. That the experiences of other people just begin to be the everyday experience. – Tutu Zondo.

Tutu says that through his collaboration with other creatives, he is working towards the different normal, the different traditions to create a new world that will usher in a new dawn that will allow for future generations to express their voices freely. Africa right now is at the cusp of something amazing, something that’s allowing creatives to mold their own paths that is for them by them, and the rest of the world can do nothing but watch and be inspired by us. The continent is moving towards a better and more inclusive and honest artistic world, creatively people are finding their voices within the chaos and they’re using their arts to break down barriers and silence repressive voices to bring the light to a continent that’s been so damaged by it’s past. Creatives such as Zondo are bridging gaps and creating new ways in which Africans can express themselves and we cannot wait to see where his next project will take him.


Written By Linda Radebe.

Adedayo Laketu

Adedayo Laketu is a creative inventor who's interested in curating a New Age for Africa across all mediums.

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