News / Arts & Entertainment

Ndebele Artist Popularizes Traditional Technique

Ndebele Artist Popularizes Traditional Arti
X
December 20, 2013 4:07 PM
In South Africa, the Ndebele tribe is famous for its colorful and geometric paintings. Over the past 30 years, Ndebele artist Esther Mahlangu has helped popularize popularize the technique, exhibiting her work in Europe, the United States and Japan. At 78, her passion hasn't diminished and she still lives in her small rural village, teaching people her art and its techniques. Emilie Iob went to meet her and filed this report for VOA.

Ndebele Artist Popularizes Traditional Art

TEXT SIZE - +
Esther Mahlangu is almost 80 but she's still going strong. For decades, she has practiced the traditional art of her tribe, the Ndebele, located in northeastern South Africa.  
 
"This was the old way of doing it, when it was done with black and white soil mixed with powder," Mahlangu said, "and you would draw the pattern with your fingers."
 
Today Ndebele art is colorful with symmetrical patterns. Mahlangu learned to paint from the elders in her home town when she was a little girl. Soon, people realized she was talented. She could draw straight lines without rulers and mastered the colors.
 
"We mix soil and water to make the pigment," she said. "And we use chicken feathers to paint. We Ndebele don't use rulers.Rulers are in our mind." 
 
One day in the late 1980s, two French researchers came to the village. They noticed her paintings and asked her to travel to France to display her art. That marked the beginning of travels that took Mahlangu to more than 20 countries to exhibit her work. 
  
"I feel very happy that the Ndebele art is getting international recognition," she said, "and I'm glad I contributed to making it happen."
 
Some years back, Mahlangu opened a guesthouse and a school in her backyard where she mentors young artists. 
 
Nomewa Shongwe has been working with Mahlangu since the age of five. She says Mahlangu's life is inspiring and she wants to follow in her teacher's footsteps. 
 
"I would like to go overseas, earn a living thanks to the art, while carrying the legacy of the Ndebele art and of Madam Esther," Nomewa said.
 
Mahlangu is prolific and doesn't plan to stop painting anytime soon. 
 
"As an Ndebele people, we grew up with this art. It's in our blood. This is why I continue painting," she said. "Young Ndebele people may not know where life will take them, but the art roots them to their Ndebele culture. It's in my heart and it's in my blood."

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

Saxophonist Craig Handy has an exciting new band called 2nd Line Smith, which combines the organ-jazz repertoire of Jimmy Smith with the “second line” rhythms of New Orleans parade music. Craig Handy joins "Beyond Category" host Eric Felten at Washington’s Bohemian Caverns jazz club to talk about the music and perform with the band.