Women in Indigenous Art

This category honours and celebrates women whose work, be it music, painting, handicraft or other form, is created using indigenous materials based on traditional methods and meanings within the context of a given culture. It further recognises those women who might not be artisans themselves but have played a significant role in the promotion and sustainability of this art form.

Francina Ndimande

Francina Ndimande is regarded as one of South Africa’s most important traditional Ndebele artists where each artist from the Ndebele group creates work that is very personal to him or her. Francina favours forms different from those of her fellow well-known artist Esther Mahlangu. Her colour choice carries her towards more acid tones and her motifs are more design like. Highly stylized figurative elements like staircases, airplanes, double storey houses, television antennas, electric lights and bulbs are regularly found in her work. These images are inspired by her frequent visits to the city and her trips overseas.

Peki Emmelinah “Nothembi” Mkhwebani

Peki (African Queen of Ndebele Music) grew up loving music, especially indigenous Ndebele music. Her Grandmother, Mantombana Mthimunye, taught her to play Ndebele instruments like isikumero, isidonodono and the african drum (iingubhe), and her uncle Besaphi Mthimunye taught her to play a home made oil-tin guitar. These lessons toook place during lunch times while they were ploughing the fields and looking after cattle.

She left home to work in Pretoria where she bought a keyboard and acoustic guitar and started to compose songs. In 1980 she formed a group called Nothembi Nezelamani Zakonomazyana: Nothembi (her traditional name) Nezelamani (the siblings) Zakonomazyana (the clan’s name). During those days they were invited to perform at cultural gatherings, weddings and other traditional ceremonies.

Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi

Mmakgabo Helen Sebidi from Marapyane in the Hammanskraal area of the Northern Transvaal developed a life-long love for the designs of traditional arts and crafts when as a young girl she spent time with her grandmother who was a traditional wall and floor painter. Coming from a humble family with limited means to obtain a formal education, circumstances forced Mmakgabo to seek work as a domestic worker in JHB in 1959. In private and in her own time she pursued her nascent sense of creativity until her employer, who encouraged her to paint, discovered her work. She has since exhibited her work in South Africa and worldwide.