Our Guests from Atlanta Georgia at Lesedi Cultural Village
30th September 2018
BEAUTIFUL NDEBELE WALL PAINTINGS
You might have seen postcards from South Africa of colourful Ndebele homes, or panels painted by world-famous Ndebele artist Esther Mahlangu at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, or her mural painting of a boulevard in New York's Tribeca neighbourhood.
The history of the Ndebele people can be traced back to Mafana, their first identifiable chief. Mafana's successor, Mhlanga, had a son named Musi who, in the early 1600's, decided to move away from his cousins (later to become the Zulu nation) and to settle in the hills of Gauteng near where the capital.
Ndebele Internal political and social structures
Ndebele authority structures were similar to those of their Zulu cousins. The authority over a tribe was vested in the tribal head (ikozi), assisted by an inner or family council (amaphakathi). Wards (izilindi) were administered by ward heads and the family groups within the wards were governed by the heads of the families. The residential unit of each family was called an umuzi The umuzi usually consisted of a family head (umnumzana) with his wife and unmarried children. If he had more than one wife, the umuzi was divided into two halves, a right and a left half, to accommodate the different wives. An umuzi sometimes grew into a more complex dwelling unit when the head's married sons and younger brothers joined the household. Every tribe consisted of a number of patrilineal clans or izibongo. This meant that every clan consisted of a group of individuals who shared the same ancestor in the paternal line
The Ndebele tribe originally in the early 18th century lived in grass huts. They began using mud-walled houses in the mid-18th century when these symbols begin to be created on their houses and walls. These expressive symbols were used for communication between sub-groups of the Ndebele people. They stood for their continuity and cultural resistance to their circumstances. The Boer farmers did not understand the meaning and viewed it as cultural art that was not harmful, so it was allowed to continue. These wall paintings done by the women was their secret code to their people, disguised to anyone but the Ndebele.
The vibrant symbols and expressions portray communications of personal prayers, self-identification, values, emotions, and marriage. Sometimes the male initiation, known as the wela, was a reason for repainting, but the ritual was not expressed. One quality of life that has never been expressed or directed through their walls is sacred expression. The rituals and religions have never been a part of the Ndebele’s house paintings. The women of the Ndebele are often the tradition carriers and the main developer of the wall art of their home. The tradition and style of house painting is passed down in the families from generation to generation by the mothers. A well-painted home shows the female of the household is a good wife and mother. She is responsible for the painting of the outside gates, front walls, side walls, and usually the interior of her home. one thing that has changed since the beginning of the house painting and the present-day wall