These images depict the aspirational world of drum majorettes in South Africa. The girls, affectionately known as ‘drummies’ come from some of the country’s most disadvantaged communities.
The sport has a long history in South Africa, and became popular across the country in the early 80s, but participation has since dropped dramatically. However, it still thriving amongst South Africa’s more marginalised communities, and is considered a highly competitive sport. For the girls and young women involved, being a drummie is a privilege and a major achievement, indicative of success on and off the field. The notoriously demanding practice schedules are representative of the girls’ commitment, and their ability to work hard, providing them with structure and a positive focus.
While there have been various debates around the archaic sense of discipline and idealised notions of femininity associated with the sport, I witnessed how being part of ‘drummies’ offered the girls a powerful sense of belonging and visibly emboldened their self-worth. Within the team structure the value of pride and confidence is consistently emphasised to the girls, something that is vital in communities where opportunities for young women are often severely limited. ‘Drummies’ becomes a vehicle through which these girls can excel, and their distinctive uniforms serve as a visual marker of success and emancipation from their surroundings.
This is part of my on-going work exploring notions of femininity and empowerment in modern society. With my continued investigation into this community I hope to convey the pride and confidence these girls have achieved through identifying as ‘drummies,’ in a context where they face various social challenges. I want these images to function as a testament to the commitment and determination of these young women. I hope that they can contribute to the visual documentation of this inspiring community, in a world where narratives are predominantly focused on the experiences of men.