The Department of Community Development has partnered with Khanya College to bring to life a heart-wrenching exhibition on the life of a village girl who survived rape attempts and physical abuse.
Dubbed “uNozizwe, a Village Girl” the exhibition explores the work of Sam Makhubo, a visual artist who profiles Nozizwe, the protagonist using acrylic paint to capture the dazzling colours that bring the story to life through 25 massive paintings.
The story of Nozizwe reflects the cruel history of oppression, whilst highlighting the struggle against sexism, tribalism, racism, women and child abuse. Makhubo’s work aims to teach the world the importance and the role played by single African women in society.
Nozizwe grew up in a poor rural village known as Vlaakplaas in Mpumalanga after her birth in January 1978. She learned to hunt (Ukuzingela) and Ukuqhathwa (stick fighting). This particular skill equipped her to fight and defeat an alleged rapist on her way back home from the nearest river (eMlanjweni) to fetch water.
Forcibly married to Thulani in 1990 whilst in Standard Seven (Grade 9), Nozizwe stopped school under her new husbands’ instruction and suffered trauma and physical abuse at his hands. She later opened a case of assault with the police, but nothing was to come of it.
Frustrated by this, she abandoned her marriage and headed back to her paternal home where she found her father gravely ill. She then went looking for a job at a local farm to help take care of her father. Whilst at work, her boss attempts to rape her. She then flees and decides to establish a Movement to fight Women and Child Abuse, which also teaches survivors beadwork, sewing, gardening and other life skills.
Before her death in 2002, most of her protégés in Vlaakplaas were self-employed, signifying the continuation of a struggle for emancipation.
“Nozizwe made a life out of nothing. Women’s fight for human dignity continues to this day,” said Vuyisile Mshudulu, the City’s Director of Arts, Culture and Heritage.
Echoing Mshudulu, Maria Vandriel, the Director of Khanya College, used a metaphor, saying the colourful exhibition denotes women taming a lion.
“People protest because they want a better life. It will be apathetic of South Africans if they accept things the way they are. Protesting is a sign of hope, a sign of not giving up,” Vandriel said.
A local artist that specialises in traditional craft products, such as 3D framed sculptures, figurate coffee tables, paintings and printmaking, Makhubo’s work was hosted under the theme “Literature and Newspapers,” as part of Khanya College’s previously held Jozi Book Fair 2019.