I just had to make this portrait of Monwabisi Sobitshi, an extraordinary actor and artist we met when we visitedGuga S’thebe Culture, Arts and Empowerment Centre at the township of Langa, Cape Town. When Monwabisi is not teaching drama to school kids and high-school drop-outs, he’s recycling soft drink cans into funky crafts.

Monwabisi spontaneously performed a scene for us from the powerful Fatima Dike play Isandulela, about a frail old gentleman who struggles to get to the voting station on election day 1994, the first election in which South Africa’s blacks were allowed to vote. His raw, passionate, and very real performance brought Lara to tears. I concentrated really hard on making photographs so as not cry. It nearly worked.

If you get to Langa and visit Guga S’thebe, perhaps Monwabisi Sobitshi will perform a scene for you. If he does, do reward Monwabisi for his time and make a donation to the Centre. Better yet, if you know a casting director for film and television, let them know just how dynamic an actor this guy is. That’s what we’ll be doing.

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