Esther Mahlangu becomes doctor

Ndebele art legend Esther Mahlangu   appeals to women to use their hands to make a living. /Siphosihle Mkhwanazi
Ndebele art legend Esther Mahlangu appeals to women to use their hands to make a living. /Siphosihle Mkhwanazi
Image: Siphosihle Mkhwanazi

The legendary Esther Mahlangu, is now officially known as Dr. Mahlangu after the 82-year-old artist was awarded an honorary degree of Philosophia Doctor Honoris at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).  Mahlangu was celebrated in a graduation ceremony on Monday.

Mahlangu who is famed for her traditional attire arrived with her guests who were also adorned in traditional Ndebele wear.

 

Born just outside of Middelberg, Mpumalanga, Mahlangu is known for her preservation of the Ndebele culture through her beautiful, large-scale contemporary paintings. 

Mahlangu began painting at the age of 10, a skill taught to her by her mother and grandmother. “My mother and grandmother used their hands and I was taught to paint with the chicken feather,” Mahlangu once said in an interview with the Sunday Times.

Mama Esther is of course no stranger to accolades having come to prominence back in 1991 when she was the first woman to create a BMW Art Car.  Her designs were also reproduced for British Airways planes in 1997.

In an attempt to further preserve her heritage, Mahlangu has also taught many children to paint at her home.

“Being recognized at home is such a blessing. It shows that my people still see the great work that I do,” Mahlangu said.

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