Gulshan Khan

Independent Photographer
The things we carry with us
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Nationality: South African
Biography: Gulshan Khan is an independent South African photographer based in Johannesburg. Currently a stringer for Agence France Presse (AFP), she was the first woman from the continent to be hired by the agency. Her work has been published in numerous... read on
Public Story
The things we carry with us
Credits: gulshan khan
Date of Work: 06/01/16 - Ongoing
Updated: 05/27/19
Location: South Africa

- Faith is something that we carry with us, even when we cannot carry anything else -
This ongoing personal project is the beginning of a documentation of South African muslims, a community which I am a part of. It is a journey to present the viewpoint of a people, especially the women, whose experiences and presences are not always visible, by portraying the prayer, the seeking, and the hope, which is profound and shared by all. Stemming from a community that has experienced apartheid and the legacy of colonialism, there is limited visual documentation of those  who were not part of the dominant race, culture or narrative, and so we did not see ourselves in the histories we were taught. With this project, I hope to create something that generations to come can look upon as a source of history and memory. 

Islam was brought to Southern Africa on a slave ship bound for the seaside city of Cape Town, the first Qu’ran being ‘carried’ and written entirely from memory.

While allowed, the religion was practiced with difficulty as muslims suffered from the oppressions of colonialism, slavery, white minority rule and the apartheid regime. Since then, and with recent global geo-politics, forced and voluntary migrations, it has flourished with every Muslim person who came to South Africa, on journeys of heartache or fear, sometimes excitement; holding onto prayers. 

There is something to be said about this intangible phenomenon and the threads which bind us together. 

Faith is one of these threads that reach from the depths of the soul to the frontiers of the physical, the individual to the communal. Faith lengthens and transcends borders and is a force which keeps people together, (re)creates and shapes communities as they attempt to re-establish home in a new place. 

It has many influences and diverse ways of cultural practice and accents. The practices are often a replication of origins or an amalgamation of a home left behind and a new land that sometimes dictates an adjusted way of observance and worship. 

South Africa is a developing country and it has become a haven or a last hope for those who have chosen to leave or who have lost their homes; for many, prayer and observance, together and in solitude, becomes the embodiment of connectedness, rootedness and reminiscence.


Also by Gulshan Khan —


Home and Isicathamiya (upon the death of Ladysmith Black Mambazo's Joseph Shabalala)

By Gulshan Khan / Ladysmith South Africa — (Joseph Shabalala, born Bhekizizwe Joseph Siphatimandla Mxoveni Mshengu Shabalala, founder of multi Grammy..

Lana and Tariro fetch water

By Gulshan Khan / Masvingo, Zimbabwe — Lana and Tariro fetch water. Masvingo, Zimbabwe. 2019.
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