My Favorite Photographs N°17: Thina Zibi

Thina Zibi demonstrates with her images the incredible innovation evident in contemporary South African design and style.

Image by Thina Zibi.

The “My favorite photographs” series is back with South African photographer/art director Thina Zibi. Born in Cape Town and now residing in Johannesburg, Thina Zibi is at the vanguard of visual artists documenting creative youth culture in urban South Africa. She demonstrates with her images the incredible innovation evident in contemporary South African design and style. With ownership of their identities, Zibi’s subjects exude a genuine sense of style, not fashion, for the unique sartorial amalgamations of those depicted are the fibers that fashion inspirations are woven from.

The people surrounding Zibi move her to shoot. In her own words, “I am always inspired by people. Their sense of style, their faces, how they carry themselves as well as the moments between them.” Zibi prefers to capture her subjects unaware, documenting them in the elegant poses of their subconscious. She finds them more comfortable when they radiate their natural disposition, uninhibited by the transformative effect of the camera lens. This approach, she explains, “has taught me to be more aware of my surroundings, to be on the lookout for interesting subjects and to always be ready when an opportunity presents itself.”

Of the images presented here, Zibi says, “The selected images are not necessarily my favorite, but rather they are ones that still intrigue me every time I look at them. They all illustrate individuals I have come across who fascinate me.”

“This was probably one of the first pictures I have ever taken. Two men having a conversation on one of the streets of Cape Town CBD (Central Business District) on a quiet Sunday. I still wonder what their topic was.”

“I am moved every time I see these next two images. I have heard so many horror stories about the streets of Johannesburg, but the picture of this man and the three women in their church gear remind me how calm the city can still be.”


“The following image is of a young poet known as King Nova. An individual character with an incredible mind.”


Bongeziwe Mabandla is one of those South African artists who remind the world of South Africa’s musical heritage. He is an amazing fusion of the old and new..”


More of Thina Zibi’s photographs can be seen at

Further Reading

Between East Africa and the Gulf

Political encounters between the Arab Gulf and Africa span centuries. Mahmud Traouri’s novel ‘Maymuna’ demonstrates the significant role of a woman’s journey from East Africa to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.


It’s not common knowledge that there is Iran in Africa and there is Africa in Iran. But there are commonplace signs of this connection.

It could happen to us

Climate negotiations have repeatedly floundered on the unwillingness of rich countries, but let’s hope their own increasing vulnerability instills greater solidarity.

Defying defeat

Political prisoner Alaa Abd El-Fattah’s collection of writings are a powerful and evocative reminder that democracy in Egypt remains a bleak prospect.