40 powerful photos of masked horsemen in Southern Africa

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 5. Lebohang Monyamane - Letseng, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong5. Lebohang Monyamane – Letseng, Lesotho, 2016

In the Drakensberg Mountains, the Semonkong region of Lesotho is comprised of various small villages. Semonkong is nestled high up in the mountains; so the area is almost entirely inaccessible by car. Some villages are close to four or five hours apart, so the local population has to find creative ways to move from one community to another. Mostly, the villagers utilize horses as their primary means of transport; the horses also come in handy for trading and herding.

In May 2016, photographer Thom Pierce spent 8 days in the Semonkong highlands capturing the rawness of the majestic horsemen and women against the most astounding Lesotho background. Through his photographic medium, Pierce manages to blur the line between fine art, portrait, and documentary photography. His photographs engage the viewer almost immediately, and one cannot help but feel a connection with the men, women, and children that took part in the series.

The immediacy in his portraits grabs our attention to transfer such pertinent information within a nanosecond. With the proliferation of photographic images nowadays, it is often difficult for a photographer to captivate audiences within such a short time frame.

The images speak for themselves without having to necessarily rely on text-based descriptions. The series contains a total of 42 photographs, and they consist of horsemen and women, young herders, as well as the commuters Pierce encountered during his journey. The blankets adorned by the subjects make such as the strong visual statement that makes it impossible to ignore them.

There is a quality to the portraits and the subjects that almost resemble knights of valor partly because of the blankets and balaclavas, but also because of the horses. The combination of the horses and the stunning Lesotho landscape produces a product that is quite dramatic, yet there is a balance between the drama of the subjects and their horses and the exquisiteness of the landscape. The result is portraits that convey the majesty and pride of the people of Semonkong.

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 1. Thabo Lekhotsa - Ha Lesala, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong1. Thabo Lekhotsa – Ha Lesala, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 2. Letima Tokata - Ha Sechache, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong2. Letima Tokata – Ha Sechache, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 3. Thapelo Moiloa with his dog Limo - Ha Salemore, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong3. Thapelo Moiloa with his dog Limo – Ha Salemore, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 4. Hlokomelang Motoko (8 years old) - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong4. Hlokomelang Motoko (8 years old) – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 6. Paleho Silase - Ha Bati, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong6. Paleho Silase – Ha Bati, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 7. Tholonna Mopa - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong7. Tholonna Mopa – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 8. Fusi Lekhotla - Ha Mateketa, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong8. Fusi Lekhotla – Ha Mateketa, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 9. Lehlohonolo Phethoka - Ha Molajafe, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong9. Lehlohonolo Phethoka – Ha Molajafe, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 10. Thabang Ntomane - Ha Maluke, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong10. Thabang Ntomane – Ha Maluke, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 11. Chabeli Mothabeng - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong11. Chabeli Mothabeng – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 12. Fihlela Ramanyatsi - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong12. Fihlela Ramanyatsi – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 13. Bokang Lijo - Ketane, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong13. Bokang Lijo – Ketane, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 14. Bokang Makhala - Ha Thabo
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong14. Bokang Makhala – Ha Thabo, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 15. Thabo Ntoi - Ha Muahloli, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong15. Thabo Ntoi – Ha Muahloli, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 16. Thabo Moso - Tsenekeng, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong16. Thabo Moso – Tsenekeng, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 17. Tseko Masotsa - Ha Lesale, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong17. Tseko Masotsa – Ha Lesale, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 18. Thabang Moholi - Ma Letsunyane, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong18. Thabang Moholi – Ma Letsunyane, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 19. Shabe Shakhane - Ha Ramosoathoane, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong19. Shabe Shakhane – Ha Ramosoathoane, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 20. Teoho Malme - Ha Hlalele, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong20. Teoho Malme – Ha Hlalele, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 21. Teboho Mokhele - Ha Lesale, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong21. Teboho Mokhele – Ha Lesale, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 22. Morolela Mosetako - Ha Matete, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong22. Morolela Mosetako – Ha Matete, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 23. Motlatsi Lesenyetho - Ha Bati, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong23. Motlatsi Lesenyetho – Ha Bati, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 24. Mokhabi - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong24. Mokhabi – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 25. Tlali Tlali - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong25. Tlali Tlali – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 26. Lilotho Ramalei - Ha Tsekane, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong26. Lilotho Ramalei – Ha Tsekane, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 27. Lucas Phethoka - Tsenekeng, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong27. Lucas Phethoka – Tsenekeng, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 28. Thabiso Tsietsi - Ha Mahluti, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong28. Thabiso Tsietsi – Ha Mahluti, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 29. Taboho Pakara - Tsenekeng, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong29. Taboho Pakara – Tsenekeng, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 30. Retselisitsoe - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong30. Retselisitsoe – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 31. Mamasisi and Masisi Letsapo - Mohlakeng, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong31. Mamasisi and Masisi Letsapo – Mohlakeng, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 32. Maphakela Kuenehelo - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong32. Maphakela Kuenehelo – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 33. Rethabile Motsapi - Tsenekeng, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong33. Rethabile Motsapi – Tsenekeng, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 34. Paulosi Lethibelani - Ketane, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong34. Paulosi Lethibelani – Ketane, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 35. Khothatso Motake - Ketane, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong35. Khothatso Motake – Ketane, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 36. Mpho Khanyapa - Ketane, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong36. Mpho Khanyapa – Ketane, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 37. Motiki Lepheane - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong37. Motiki Lepheane – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 38. Motaba Motaba - Ha Seqhoasho, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong38. Motaba Motaba – Ha Seqhoasho, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 39. Mohlouoa Makafane - Ha Seqhoasho, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong39. Mohlouoa Makafane – Ha Seqhoasho, Lesotho, 2016

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 40. Mohasoa Motoko - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom PierceThe Horsemen of Semonkong40. Mohasoa Motoko – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

 

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