The Penny Penny is an annual commemoration taking place on 5 November in South African townships.
This tradition origin from the Guy Fawkes night, witch was celebrated in the Commonwealth countries and hailing from Great Britain. Its history begins with the events of 5 November 1605, when a member of the Gunpowder Plot was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James I had survived the attempt on his life, people started to lit bonfires around cities.
All over the years, white South African stopped to celebrate that day, however in townships this tradition is still alive and instead of popping fireworks, children and teenagers have developed their own festivities by dressing up in their mothers’ best clothes, running around the neighborhood, singing and asking for money.
It’s still unclear how or why the cross-dressing custom developed. In Katlehong, a south east Johannesburg township where the pictures have been shooted, most of the people don’t know the origins of that celebration and it is often associated with homosexual rights movement. In cities the gay social acceptance is wider than the rural areas thanks to the post-apartheid constitution which was the first in the world to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. Since 2006, when the same-sex marriages has been legalized, the Gauteng province, where Johannesburg is located, registered the highest pick of couples.
All pictures are Imacon 848 scan from bleached FP-100C film negative. They were shooted with a modified Polaroid 215 folder camera wireless connected to a single flash light to recreate a fake-fashion set for a documentary issue. Original instant prints have been given to the withdrawn kids.
This series of formal portraits is part of a long term project on the first South African born-free generation, witch has been recognized by the World Press Photo for the “Staff Riding” story in 2014.