Portraits of the women of Botswana's heavy metal subculture

South African photographer Paul Shiakallis produced a series of photos, "Leathered Skins, Unchained Hearts," of the "queens" of Botswana's heavy metal "Marok" scene, mostly in their homes.

The portraits were shot in the Gaborone, the capital city, and display the tension between traditional Botswanan patriarchy and transgressive self-expression. The Maroks cross over with Botswana's biker scene, which, in turn, borrows elements from the country's farmers, like leather vests.

Skinflint, Metal Orizon, Wrust, Crackdust, Overthrust, and Amok are some of Botswana's biggest metal bands, but since the Marok scene is very small, they only play shows every few months. "When they do have a show, rockers from all around Botswana make the effort to show up, even if they have to travel 700km from another town," Shiakallis says. At festivals or shows with big lineups, the Morok tend to unite beforehand to "march for a cause." They first donate to an elected charity, then march together, led by Marok men dragging chains on the ground as the parade of metalheads mount each others' shoulders and play fight in "ritualistic dances." "It's a very surreal sight," Shiakallis says.

Leathered Skins, Unchained Hearts [Paul Shiakallis]

The Queens of Botswana's Metal Scene
[Carey Dunne/Hyperallergic]

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)