Ikaya likaMoya / That which binds us / ukunxusa
Artist and documentary photographer Sethembiso Zulu in his exploration of his spiritual connection to the Zion Christian Church presents Ikhaya Lika Moya 2019. A Healer and all-round creative person, he uses his photography to educate and inform people about the journeys he and many other people choose into Zion Churches. His work navigates through rituals, performances, symbols and sermons conducted at the Nancefield Hostel in Soweto.
Zulus work is deeply autobiographical tied to his calling as a healer, the Zion church is part of his ancestral calling. He says, “In 2005, two months after I left initiation training, I was led to the church where I felt I didn’t need to apologise for my spirituality!” The church became a place of refuge and healing for the artist, he continued to be an active member of the church to this day. His interactions with the church and its members informed his photographic explorations into Ikhaya Lika Moya.
In this body of work shot at hostel site in Soweto, Zulu takes us through a journey into what binds the people of Zion Church. Located in a makeshift dwelling outside Nancefield hostel, services take place over Sundays. With no clear time, the prolonged processes of the church are guided by prayer, intersessions into the spiritual realm. Much like Zulus journey, all the congregants have a deeply personal journey which must be realised in these services. Ikhaya lika Moya invites us to bear witness to these journeys.
Outside this shrine in Nancefield, which is a stone throw from the residential hostel, there are markers of the religious sect. Outside the church hangs a white flag, a symbol of purity and entry into transitory spaces. White is also the colour of religious garments. Telling congregants that the service is about to commence, accompanied by various colour flags which have great significance to the church. In the centre of the church a cross, a symbol of the sacrifice of Christ. These signs are important as markers of holy spaces. Water as a cleanser and source of nourishment is one of the cornerstones of the services, always available in drums and containers. White, green and red provide visual language for the services inviting the spirits of your family to accompany you to throughout the service.
The state of trance or spiritual awakening is brought about this interaction with one’s ancestors and God. The affiliation with those that have passed, and the Bible is at the centre of the regilous practice amongst the Zion Christian Church. It a process that has no beginning and end, a constant space of shifts and journeys into one’s own world. This is what Ikhaya Lika Moya presents. transitory spaces of becoming, believing reckoning with different aspects of one’s beliefs.
Ikhaya Lika Moya is part of a trilogy of documenting Zulus spiritual journey through dreams, prayers, interactions and visions. Zulu continues his work into the trilogy.
“In 2005, two months after I left initiation training,
I was led to the church where I felt I didn’t need to
apologise for my spirituality!”