Painter Esther Mahlangu is creating mural waves

Esther Mahlangu.
Esther Mahlangu.
Image: BMW Group

Renowned Ndebele mural painter Esther Mahlangu has been honoured by a local food company, featuring her art designs in its products.

Her colourful designs have for the past few weeks featured in the Tiger Brands’ most popular products – Albany bread and Tastic rice.

Speaking to Sowetan at her Mpumalanga home on Sunday, Mahlangu said she was approached by Tiger Brands a few months ago, and that it was an honour to have her signature drawing and name engraved on the company’s food products.

“When they asked for my permission, I allowed them. I am excited to see my designs on the [company’s] rice and bread products,” she said.

“It shows that they appreciate my work. I would love people to use my drawings anywhere, but they must ask for my permission.

“When I came back from Portugal last week, I bought borotho [bread] and saw the designs; I was happy. I have decided to keep the plastic rappers for memories.”

When asked if Tiger Brands was paying for using her designs, Mahlangu's manager, Isaac Mokwana said: "We are happy to work with Tiger Brand. They have paid 100% for the bread and 50% for the rice. The rest of the money will be paid in the first week of October."

Meanwhile, on Friday she had an honorary doctorate in visual and performing arts conferred on her by Durban University of Technology.

She was honoured alongside former Ukhozi FM boss Welcome Bhodloza Nzimande, and Sipho Mchunu of Juluka.

“Last year, University of Johannesburg gave me another doctorate,” she said.

Last week, Mahlangu returned from a trip to Portugal where she was commissioned to design a hotel and a church. “I turned that place to Ndebele area though there are no Ndebeles living there.”

In 2016, Mahlangu collaborated with Belvedere Vodka and US singer John Legend to create labels for a limited range of Belvedere Vodka bottles.

“John Legend sent me his ornaments so that I could design them using Ndebele drawings. I know John, his wife and their child.”

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