Youth Day is commemorated in memory of the 1976 Soweto school pupils who protested against an oppressive education system. This action spurred demonstrations across the country and was a pivotal step in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Fast forward 40 years and the youth of today are protesting for free education. South African youth are #feisty and #fightforourrights, that’s one thing for sure!
Although our current state of affairs is far from ideal, it can be said that we enjoy more freedom thanks to the bravery of these activists. This youth day, OFF THE TAR is doing a Q&A with one of the present day South African youths. Valencia Sifo is an aspiring model hailing from East London and this shoot was done in celebration of her freedom.
What’s your vision for modelling?
Living my dream would translate to doing something I love the most. Being on a Billboard, advertising a product, has always been a dream. I’d also like to work behind the camera to capture a vision from my perspective and to practice my creativity.
How did you choose this outfit?
I’ve always wanted to do a shoot wearing a traditional patterned outfit and during my search for a fabric I came across this specific one which I loved. The make-up was also inspired by the outfit and to complete the look. This look has allowed me to embrace my culture as an African woman.
What about this look appealed to you?
Firstly, the designer did such an amazing job. The natural hair, make-up and location all worked well together and appealed to me greatly.
Which positive aspects do you identify with as a youth in South Africa today?
Just one: self-expression. From my perspective everyone is creatively wired because each individual is different. Finding our inner comfort makes us truly happy.
What challenges do you encounter as a youth in present day South Africa?
Employment is a challenge. It sometimes seems like education has no purpose unless you have a vision, the drive and motivation to start your own establishment.
Who inspires you and why?
I’ve always looked up to Miss Angela Simmons. I am drawn to not only her sense of style but her creativity, persona and attitude towards life. In South Africa, I am inspired by every woman who has contributed to the nation that we have become.
Photography: Sizwe Ndlovu