“We can be anything.” Discover the resilience to bloom against all odds


Tandekile Mkize avoids stepping on the cracks. He isn’t superstitious. But in these spaces, flowers thrive. Nature’s ability to grow past the concrete holds deeper meaning for Mkize. He sees a resilience there – one he bears witness to every day. His photography represents the way people of colour confront adversity, only to push through and emerge stronger. “We’ve been able to actualise our lives and our existence against the odds,” Mkize says.

To celebrate this strength, Mkize stylised and photographed the series BLOOM with Luxolo Witvoet. “It’s an authentic black experience from a black gaze,” Mkize explains. In the selection of photos, he portrays people in a soft light, carrying bouquets of proteas. There’s an element of vulnerability – but it’s also the root of their power. Opening up allows for connection and generates hope. “I feel my work does heal and inspire people,” Mkize says.

This year, Design Indaba recognised the photographer as an Emerging Creative. At the intersection of fashion and art, Mkize crafts stories of boldness. Inspired by those who overcome hardship, his work encourages us to live courageously. “I’ve been told that I won’t be able to achieve what I set out for myself,” Mkize says. “Defying those expectations has shown me that we can be anything we want to be.” Faced with darkness, there’s always potential for our light to break through.