Thom Pierce – 40 powerful photos of masked horsemen in Southern Africa

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

Introduction

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.

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 1. Thabo Lekhotsa - Ha Lesala, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 1. Thabo Lekhotsa – Ha Lesala, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 2. Letima Tokata - Ha Sechache, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 2. Letima Tokata – Ha Sechache, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 3. Thapelo Moiloa with his dog Limo - Ha Salemore, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 3. Thapelo Moiloa with his dog Limo – Ha Salemore, Lesotho, 2016

The Semonkong region of Lesotho

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. The villagers mostly utilize horses as their primary means of transport; the horses also come in handy for trading and herding.

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 4. Hlokomelang Motoko (8 years old) - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 4. Hlokomelang Motoko (8 years old) – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 6. Paleho Silase - Ha Bati, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 6. Paleho Silase – Ha Bati, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 7. Tholonna Mopa - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 7. Tholonna Mopa – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

The Horsemen of Semonkong

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 and young herders, as well as the commuters Pierce encountered during his journey. The blankets adorned by the subjects make such a strong visual statement that makes it is impossible to ignore them.

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 8. Fusi Lekhotla - Ha Mateketa, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 8. Fusi Lekhotla – Ha Mateketa, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 9. Lehlohonolo Phethoka - Ha Molajafe, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 9. Lehlohonolo Phethoka – Ha Molajafe, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 10. Thabang Ntomane - Ha Maluke, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 10. Thabang Ntomane – Ha Maluke, Lesotho, 2016

Analysis

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.

Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 11. Chabeli Mothabeng - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 11. Chabeli Mothabeng – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 12. Fihlela Ramanyatsi - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 12. Fihlela Ramanyatsi – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 13. Bokang Lijo - Ketane, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 13. Bokang Lijo – Ketane, Lesotho, 2016

Conclusion

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 - 14. Bokang Makhala - Ha Thabo
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 14. Bokang Makhala – Ha Thabo, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 15. Thabo Ntoi - Ha Muahloli, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 15. Thabo Ntoi – Ha Muahloli, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 16. Thabo Moso - Tsenekeng, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 16. Thabo Moso – Tsenekeng, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 17. Tseko Masotsa - Ha Lesale, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 17. Tseko Masotsa – Ha Lesale, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 18. Thabang Moholi - Ma Letsunyane, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 18. Thabang Moholi – Ma Letsunyane, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 19. Shabe Shakhane - Ha Ramosoathoane, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 19. Shabe Shakhane – Ha Ramosoathoane, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 20. Teoho Malme - Ha Hlalele, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 20. Teoho Malme – Ha Hlalele, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 21. Teboho Mokhele - Ha Lesale, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 21. Teboho Mokhele – Ha Lesale, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 22. Morolela Mosetako - Ha Matete, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 22. Morolela Mosetako – Ha Matete, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 23. Motlatsi Lesenyetho - Ha Bati, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 23. Motlatsi Lesenyetho – Ha Bati, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 24. Mokhabi - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 24. Mokhabi – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 25. Tlali Tlali - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 25. Tlali Tlali – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 26. Lilotho Ramalei - Ha Tsekane, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 26. Lilotho Ramalei – Ha Tsekane, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 27. Lucas Phethoka - Tsenekeng, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 27. Lucas Phethoka – Tsenekeng, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 28. Thabiso Tsietsi - Ha Mahluti, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 28. Thabiso Tsietsi – Ha Mahluti, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 29. Taboho Pakara - Tsenekeng, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 29. Taboho Pakara – Tsenekeng, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 30. Retselisitsoe - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 30. Retselisitsoe – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 31. Mamasisi and Masisi Letsapo - Mohlakeng, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 31. Mamasisi and Masisi Letsapo – Mohlakeng, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 32. Maphakela Kuenehelo - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 32. Maphakela Kuenehelo – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 33. Rethabile Motsapi - Tsenekeng, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 33. Rethabile Motsapi – Tsenekeng, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 34. Paulosi Lethibelani - Ketane, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 34. Paulosi Lethibelani – Ketane, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 35. Khothatso Motake - Ketane, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 35. Khothatso Motake – Ketane, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 36. Mpho Khanyapa - Ketane, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 36. Mpho Khanyapa – Ketane, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 37. Motiki Lepheane - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 37. Motiki Lepheane – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 38. Motaba Motaba - Ha Seqhoasho, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 38. Motaba Motaba – Ha Seqhoasho, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 39. Mohlouoa Makafane - Ha Seqhoasho, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 39. Mohlouoa Makafane – Ha Seqhoasho, Lesotho, 2016
Thom Pierce - The Horsemen of Semonkong - 40. Mohasoa Motoko - Semonkong, Lesotho
Thom Pierce – The Horsemen of Semonkong – 40. Mohasoa Motoko – Semonkong, Lesotho, 2016

All images: Thom Pierce

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