Monday, November 26, 2007

Be True: Sibu Sibaca

Role Model - Aids Orphan & Activist:
"Only in her early twenties, Sibu Sibaca has certainly endured more than her share of suffering, having lost both her mother and father. As an angry, hurt and rebellious youth she started volunteering at LoveLife to do something positive, which gave a clear direction to her life. She has since represented Africa at the G8 summit, challenged Tony Blair, been personally head-hunted by Richard Branson and now manages Virgin Active’s Social Investment Programme. What sets her apart is not her suffering – it is her success, her capacity for joy and staying true to her irrepressible spirit."

The first thing I always notice about Sibu is how "small" she is; petite is perhaps a better word, but small suits the context, for after time spent in her presence, the perspective shifts, and you become aware of how she can fill a room (I should mention that one of the organisers mentioned her size while meeting her; this under a 3x2 metre image of her up on a wall.) I first met her while photographing for Dazed & Confused:Japan and while I like to think I did justice to her beauty, I was unable to carry across her dynamic nature in just an office setting, albeit it while reading Maya Angelou and engaged in animated conversation with her friends.

Sibu's energy, it seems, is ever present. She was the first to respond to me as I put out feelers for this Nike project, and as I struggled to talk to her (out of breath having just staggered in from a 5 k run) I found out that she was out of town for the days that I wanted to shoot, but would be in Durban for the beginning of a week-long trip along the coast of South Africa, playing cricket with kids from the area. I booked a ticket.

It was great to see her again, to be reminded of her drive, and to get soaked as I walked up and down the beach with her and over 800 kids, for hours on end, having been burnt for three days in a row and therefore electing to wear long jeans, a long sleeve shirt and sneakers. Surprisingly, no one there thought I was a beach person, up to my knees in Levi's, photographing her play with kids and handle admin on her phone at the same time (as well as planning tickets and a dress for a gala event that night.) Clearly, if I could multi-task like her, I would have shoes that didn't smell of sand and salt... even after three days of washing.



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