Champion of Ndebele art

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

Ndebele artist Esther Mahlangu has been recognised for her contribution to art in South Africa.

The widely travelled grandmother, whose paintings have come to symbolise the rich and colourful heritage of Ndebele art, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Arts and Culture Trust Awards ceremony held in Sandton, Johannesburg, on Thursday.

The obviously overwhelmed Mahlangu had the auditorium in stitches when thanking the organisers for appreciating her talent. She asked her assistant to translate her speech from isiNdebele to English when she had, in fact, used both languages to make her short acceptance speech.

"Thank you all. Ngiya thokoza."

Mahlangu was among several individuals and organisations that received awards at the ceremony that lacked the sparkle of past awards ceremonies.

The reason for the poor showing was obvious.

In truth, the quality of some of the recipients' art remained questionable and was simply not in Mahlangu's league.