UJ to honour iconic Ndebele artist Esther Mahlangu with honourary doctorate

Internationally acclaimed Ndebele artist Esther Nikwambi Mahlangu will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Johannesburg on Monday.

Her work first won international attention in 1989 after her inclusion in the important exhibition Magiciens de la Terre at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. She has racked up countless awards ever since and was most recently honoured with a mural by artist Imani Shanklin Roberts in New York.

"With this honorary doctorate, we recognise Esther Mahlangu for her legacy as a cultural entrepreneur, skillfully negotiating local and global worlds, and as an educator," said the executive dean of the UJ Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, Professor Federico Freschi.

"Indeed, as a visionary individual, she traverses what to others are insurmountable political barriers."

READ: The youth have thrown away their traditions - Esther Mahlangu

During a News24 interview at her homestead in Mpumalanga, Mahlangu said: "Through my art, I have seen the world. People from all over the world come to KwaNdebele to learn about my culture.

"IsiNdebele is my culture and I love it. I speak isiNdebele, I walk isiNdebele and I wear isiNdebele,” she said proudly in isiNdebele.

Mahlangu’s creativity was evident from a young age. By the time she was 10, she had been taught the art of Ndebele homestead wall painting and beadwork by her mother and grandmother.

Esther Mahlangu: Ndebele art showed me the world

Heritage icon and Ndebele artist Esther Mahlangu wants to be remembered for her work. Mahlangu has been painting since she was 10 years old and is today passing on her teachings at her home in KwaNdebele in Middelburg, Mpumalanga.

"Eventually they told me that my work was impressive and they called me to paint the front of the house. I never looked back until I got married. In my culture they used to say, when you get married, you have to paint your first house yourself," she said.

Next month, Mahlangu will be participating in an international women’s exhibition - which will include work by conceptual artist Yoko Ono - at the Nirox Foundation Sculpture Park in Johannesburg.

Mahlangu is the third recipient of an honorary doctorate from the university during this year’s autumn graduation season.

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng received an honorary doctorate on March 27, in recognition of "his pioneering commitment to serving humankind by upholding the independence of the judiciary and by promoting access to justice in tangible ways".

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Matric results are out! Are you happy with your child's result?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
No, the pandemic really messed up their ability to focus
33% - 593 votes
Yes, they did well given the circumstances
67% - 1205 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
15.24
+0.1%
Rand - Pound
20.59
+0.1%
Rand - Euro
17.23
+0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.91
+0.0%
Rand - Yen
0.13
+0.1%
Gold
1,847.90
-0.0%
Silver
23.74
-0.3%
Palladium
2,194.10
-0.4%
Platinum
1,029.93
+0.1%
Brent Crude
88.20
+2.2%
Top 40
65,870
0.0%
All Share
72,315
0.0%
Resource 10
72,883
0.0%
Industrial 25
89,867
0.0%
Financial 15
14,799
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE