Deeply rooted in South Africa’s history and cultures, Gogos (Grandmothers) are the bedrock upon which South Africa’s communities have stood for generations. Their lives marked by unwavering perseverance, faith, wisdom and courage, they have strived to hold their families and communities together in the face of unrelenting hardships and persistent societal pressures. South African Gogos have fought against the combined brutality of Apartheid, the debilitating effects of poverty and mass unemployment, and the devastating impact of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis. Almost all have personally experienced the immense challenges of loss and grief.

Gogos are mothers to their children and grandchildren; they are wives, leaders, breadwinners, nurturers and entrepreneurs. Their determined resilience and quiet dignity has enabled them to carry responsibilities far, far heavier than should ever be expected of their generation, and yet rarely are their voices heard, and rarely do they receive the recognition and emotional, political and material support that they so richly deserve.

The following photographic series is a collaboration with the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust (HACT), with a special thanks to the Gogos of the Valley of 1000 Hills for sharing their stories. It explores the dignified strength and resilience shown by Gogos, using their personal stories as a mirror to reflect on the great weight of responsibility carried by Gogos in South Africa over generations.

“ ‘Wathint' Abafazi, Wathint' Imbokodo’ “Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock” ”― Women March - 1956