Thursday, September 16, 2010

Africa meets Africa - Ndebele Women designing Identity

An Ndebele Resource!

Africa meets Africa: Ndebele Women designing Identity focuses on the history and visual cultural expression of the Ndzundza and Manala Ndebele.

In this project, the authors explore the knowledge contained in the sophisticated design landscape of Ndebele women, which has informed their homestead design beadwork and has informed their homestead design, beadwork and painting. They look at the design language as art, but also in terms of the history and heritage that produced it. Going one step further, they also mathematically explore the elegant symmetry and proportion of Ndebele design.

A fifty-two minute documentary film by Guy Spiller (script by Andre Croucamp) introduces Zimbabwean Ndebele speaker Siphiwe Khumalo, who comes across Ndebele painting for the first time in Johannesburg, and then investigates the people who make the colorful designs. She talks with to such academics as Ndebele historian Dr. Sekibakiba Peter Lekhgoathi of the History Department of the University of the Witwatersrand, and Professor Peter Rich, who studied Ndebele homestead architecture. Siphiwe undertakes a journey to rural KwaMahlanga, Mabhoko and the surrounding area, to the homes of the master painters Esther Mahlangu and Francinah Ndemande, as well as attends contemporary Ndebele cultural festivals. Finally, she interviews Mathematician Dr. Chonat Getz, who explores the remarkable symmetry and proportion in the design language that Nbebele women use in their homestead architecture and painting.

The sixty-four page book (in full color), designed by Anina Kruger, unpacks the history of the Ndzundza and Manala Ndebele in more depth.

The book is available for purchase on Africa Meets Africa website,

The Africa meets Africa Project explores the southern African cultural heritage in the belief that educators and students in South African schools can find solutions to contemporary learning problems in the knowledge and skills contained in familiar forms of cultural expression around them. This integrated approach to learning serves all of South Africa's educators, as current curriculum statements call for a process of holistic learning - and specifically for an engagement with the cultural context of learning areas such as the Arts, Mathematics, Language and History.

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