A series celebrating the beauty of sisterly bonds
Words: Kholeka Kumalo | Photography: Gemma Sheperd | Hair + makeup: Michelle Moolman
Welcome to SUPERB WOMEN, a series that showcases the powerful, dynamic, life-giving bonds forged between women who continuously show up for each other in the best ways. We have a firm eye on what it means to be a South African woman every day of the year, the good and the bad. Women’s Month presents a much-needed opportunity to embrace how far we’ve come, where we now stand and what the future holds – on our terms. Through all of these moments in time, women consistently uphold and uplift each other, big time. No matter the decade, we’re propelled through life by the strength of our women ties – our sisterly ties – whether by blood or bond.
Meet the Kgasanes, both familiar fashion favourites in stylish media circles. But Fikile, a finance student and creator of The Style Fiks, and her older sister Palesa, a content creative, model and singer on the side, are self-confessed opposites. Fikile envisaged a Women’s Day filled with meditation, Palesa wanted to enjoy a chilled G & T with the gang. Palesa’s go-to “Girl Power” anthem is Aretha Franklin’s Respect, Fikile’s is more Destiny’s Child circa Survivor. Fikile prefers to plan things years in advance, whereas Palesa chooses to live in the moment. These things don't matter, though, when the sister love is soul binding.
PALESA: We’re super opposite. The way we connect… we’re close in a very heart, mind, spiritual way, because I feel like we’re so opposite. We didn’t get along when we were young. I think we only got closer after I left for varsity?
FIKILE: Actually when I came to varsity. Because we were all we had when we got to Cape Town.
PALESA: Ja. That made us closer. I’ve always… we've both been outcasts, so we’ve always stuck together in terms of that. I know even if I walk wherever alone or if I felt like, you know, it’s me against the world, I know I’d be able to call you and be like girl, please come chill. And we always keep it real. I think that’s the one thing you can’t kill in terms of our vibe. We don’t fake not being touchy-feely… we’ve been authentic, beyond our sisterhood. And I think that’s one thing that most women can carry. Don’t change yourself to fit into any kind of space.
FIKILE: Coming to varsity allowed me to be myself, I guess. It wasn’t difficult for me to be myself, because I always knew who I was, but when I came to varsity it was liberating to say and be who I want to be.
PALESA: Ja, though you don’t say that much...
FIKILE: Though I don’t say that much. But it was nice having you here to reaffirm that it’s okay to be on your own and be yourself.
PALESA: First of all, I’m your Instagram photographer, I’m low-key your agent...
FIKILE: And I’m your psychologist.
PALESA: My psychologist slash psychiatrist.
FIKILE: Slash personal assistant and financial advisor.
PALESA: Slash pharmacist slash doctor. You get my medicine prescriptions. Every time I have a trip, you help me pack. You’re my low-key cleaner… there’s a very domestic…
FIKILE: We’re very caring.
PALESA: Ja, we’re nurturing.
PALESA: My biggest enemy is imposter syndrome. You affirm me a lot and remind me to remember where I started. A grounding thing, but also like, “Dude, you’re amazing.” Encouraging, affirming, you’re always just like, “Maybe you’re not getting likes, but it doesn’t mean your work sucks.” Bigger picture. You help me look at the bigger picture.
FIKILE: You help me to just live and to not reason everything.
PALESA: Ja, you’re super logical about everything.
FIKILE: To live… do what my heart wants to do. Live in the moment. Being present.
PALESA: That’s my steez.
FIKILE: Because I like to plan two years in...
PALESA: Being strong is being able to be unapologetic about who you are. Being able to use your platform and resources to empower other people. We’re empowered by raising each other. I think that’s why it’s so great to be a woman today because we’re able to seek strength in our womanness.
FIKILE: I find being vulnerable helps you open up and then empower people. Owning that vulnerability and that soft side to then empower people...
PALESA: But it all starts with being honest with yourself.
FIKILE: Ja, being honest with yourself, ja.
PALESA: First of all, every month should be Women’s Month.
FIKILE: Every day!
PALESA: It’s empowering, it’s exciting, it seems like women get super creative around this time. I love how we are confidently taking off our clothes, shaving off our hair, bleaching our eyebrows. I think we’re redefining ourselves even in terms of the gender spectrum. We politicise Women’s Month a lot, which is very important in terms of voting and being able to do what we do, but we are empowered and it’s important to embrace every facet of that every month and not just now.
FIKILE: I’d like to see it more celebrated every day and not just on TV, newspapers or in the media, but in households, in classes, you know? For me, we could still do more celebrating and acknowledging women.
PALESA: And acknowledging our differences as well.
PALESA: Sisterhood is soul binding. If we didn’t have that core in terms of the way we were raised, even if we didn’t get along personality-wise, our souls are the same.
FIKILE: But it’s also choosing to love in spite of and not because of. Choosing to love each other and being intentional about it, because we just take it for granted that we’re sisters and we’ll be there for each other forever, but we need to choose to love and walk together. It’s like a marriage. You choose every day, you’re my sister and I’m going to love you every day.
PALESA: But that’s why I’m saying the soul bond is there. I can fight with you, but I’m still like girl, you...
FIKILE: But we choose to forgive each other and chose to support each other.
PALESA: *laughs* And that’s hard sometimes. Ja, it’s really hard.
FIKILE: *laughs* Are we done?