Bulawayo Conversations: Ilizwe | Nyika | Nation Collaboration

June 2020

National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting. Topic: ILIZWE | NYIKA | NATION COLLABORATION
Time: Jun 16, 2020 14:30 Harare, Pretoria

Join Zoom Meeting : https://maxwellmutanda.zoom.us/j/4990639072?pwd=aXRicDVLL0dDNm1xSyt4a0tVd2N0Zz09
Meeting ID: 499 063 9072
Password: 9AQPqv

Ilizwe/Nyika/Nation Collaboration was produced in 2019 by artists at a residency held at the National Gallery of Bulawayo.

This collaboration is multidisciplinary work investigating different values and ideologies attached to land, national identity, boundaries and belonging in Southern Africa and Zimbabwe and aimed to encourage collaboration between South African and Zimbabwean artists across artistic disciplines. Land is a sensitive issue in both South Africa and Zimbabwe with both countries’ colonial histories, struggles for independence and forced removals. Land ownership and land rights are still contentious issues in the neighboring states.

Land and gender are charged topics as both countries struggle with transformation and healing from of colonialism and apartheid. The collective (mainly comprised of female artists) developed the work through a series of work shopped processes that allowed them to collectively explore histories and narratives (personal and historical) around gender and land. The group also chose to explore the historical narrative of Ndebele Queen Lozikheyi and the Ndebele people in connection to a historical site of Hillside Dam in Bulawayo. The site it said to be the location of King Lobengula’s favourite royal village to which he escaped to relax in the 19th Century and is now a National Monument. (Hillside Dam Conservancy)

Ilizwe is the Ndebele word for Nation and Nyika is the Shona word for Nation, both tribes are found in Zimbabwe The Ndebele’s in the Bulawayo region have strong historical ties to the Zulu nation of South Africa. South African History Online, says “subjects of the Zulu leader Mzilikazi, fled north from Natal after his defeat by Shaka in 1817…He is therefore credited as being the founder of the Ndebele in Zimbabwe.” 

Natasha Fuyane writes of Queen Lozikeyi,

“After the “disappearance” of King Lobengula in 1893, Queen Lozikeyi assumed the role of acting head of state. After the 1893 Matebele war (The British South Africa Company fought the Ndebele) the Ndebele kingdom had been greatly weakened and a significant population displaced. She became Queen Regent and oral tradition credits her for keeping King Lobengula’s subjects united. In 1896, along with Muntuwani, Queen Lozikeyi led the resistance against colonial rule and land dispossessions of the Ndebele people.

Queen Lozikeyi was a firm, strong-willed, principled, and greatly respected woman. What we have here is a remarkable woman who readily stepped in at a time of crisis to be the interim leader or ‘King’ of the Ndebele people. Yet her story remains little known. In Zimbabwe, as with most countries, memorialisation has leaned towards being patriarchal, as evidenced by the naming of significant structures, buildings and roads. There remains an opportunity to reimagine what and who is memorialised and just what this could mean for the psyche of young girls looking for themselves or a woman role model in their history.”

News headlines around gender-based violence were brought into sharp focus at the time of the residency when the work was produced with the #enoughisenough protests, while at the same time xenophobic attack flared up in South Africa and the ex-president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe passed away ushering in a new political era.

The approach of democratic collaboration made it possible to explore these events in relation to our topic in a sensitive manner as a group over the residency period.

The collaborators of Ilizwe/Nyika/Nation are currently in the process of finalising the work to be exhibited in March 2021 at the National Gallery of Bulawayo.

Collaborating Artists include: Cliford Zulu, Deborah Weber, Elgin Rust, Jolene Cartmill, Lady Shawe, Nomvuyiso Mpofu, Shamilla Aasha, Zandile Masuku.


@iliswe_collab on Instagram


Previous collaborative projects include: Karoo Disclosure,  a multidisciplinary art collaboration about fracking in the Karoo and has been shown at the Iziko South African Museum, Cape Town (2015) and the Oliewenhuis Museum in Bloemfontein (2017). Following this project was Ubulungiswa/Justice multidisciplinary collaborative work shown at the Michealis School of Fine Arts UCT (2015), AVA Gallery in Cape Town (2018) and most recently Ghana Chale Wote Street Art Festival (2018).


Cliford Zulu: Curator, National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo. Born and works in Bulawayo Zimbabwe, still young in curating realms he is fascinated by design as such his approach is constructive and open. In curating, Zulu explores ways of building blocks with the artists and his audience enabling the spaces to engage the energy captured in the artwork.To Cliford, art means working with inspiration to discover more energy and transformable ideas. He is fascinated by design as such my approach is constructive and open.  Collaborations and new media practices are my starting point, discharging the energy when it arises in the space where both the artists and the audience are slightly out of their comfort zone. In leadership, he explores ways of building blocks with the artists and my audience enabling the spaces to engage the energy captured in the artwork. Zulu works on a practical and at aesthetic level, finding himself immersed in this new terminology around art management in the creative sector. As an artist, the transformation is somewhat puzzling yet the idea of growth through networking with artists and audiences in local and international spaces inspires the voyage. To this extend he focuses on building projects from the design perspective with the artists put in motion by collaborative movements through interdisciplinary practices. A lot is gained when it is shared and synergy is just an Academic term for the possible. Putting utopias into action is way more fun.

Deborah Weber: Born in Johannesburg in 1979, is an alumni student of UCT Michaelis School of Fine Art who graduated with a BAFA in 2004 and a Post Graduate Diploma in Fine Arts in 2015 and her MAFA in 2020 on artistic collaboration. She is a performance, video and installation artist and has worked collaboratively since 2001. Her renewed interest in collaboration started in 2014 with the initiation of a co-authored work on fracking in the Karoo called Karoo Disclosure, followed by Ubulungiswa/Justice Collaboration in 2015. Deborah investigated the methodologies and strategies of producing collaborative work in her MAFA research completed in 2020 at UCT. Karoo Disclosure was exhibited at the South African National Museum in Cape Town and the Oliewenhuis Museum in Bloemfontein as well as That Art Fair and the Prince Albert Film Festival in the Western Cape. Ubulungiswa/Justice has been shown at the Michealis Gallery UCT, the AVA Gallery CT, Assemblage project in Alexander JHB and Chale Wote Festival in Ghana. Deborah has worked in the creative industries for many years from the Bell-Roberts Gallery in Loop street to the Brett Kebble Art Awards, Cape Africa Biennial and Design Indaba. See more in https://www.deborahweber.info/ She founded ARTco studio a membership of collaborating artist’s’ and designers https://www.artcostudio.org/

Elgin Rust: was born in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1974. She is a South African artist who received her MFA with distinction at the University of Cape Town in 2010. Rust is a mixed media practitioner making use of printmaking, sculpture and performative installations in her self-motivated and collaborative oeuvre. She playfully re-imagines legal procedure and theories to give rise to new meaning using image and objects alike. Under the #truthtroughplay her process driven work embraces techniques from wood carving, slip casting ceramics to performative collaborative all immersive site-specific installations. Rust has participated in solo, group and collaborative exhibitions at the AVA Gallery and the Oliewenhuis Art Museum as well as participating at Chale Wote Street Art Festival 2018, Ghana with the collaborative project Ubulungiswa/Justice 2015. Currently she is preparing for a collaborative residency at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe scheduled for September 2019. See more www.elginrust.com

 Jolene Cartmill Born in South Africa in 1981. Studied film & TV production in Cape Town.Specialized in directing music videos.Has been involved in the production (directing, filming, editing) of many documentaries, shorts and other video and film projects over the last 20 years (with work shown at Encounters Festival, ResFest Africa, Design Indaba, as well as on at least 60 different TV channels globally, and… the internet). A collaborator in the 2015 collaborative art project Ubulungiswa/Justice. Jolene facilitates process dance and is a managing board member of the organisation “Dance Awake”. Currently working on multiple projects including a commissioned body of work around ‘Rites of Passage’ involving dance, music creation, art film and documentary, as well as the collaborative art project Nyika/Nation-State.
website: www.thelovepicturecompany.co.za

 Nomvuyiso M Mpofu: Is a 38 woman a mother of 3 kids and married. She is a fulltime actress doing both film and theatre and also a theatre director. Nomvuyiso is a visual artist by profession and able to work with a different medium. Last exhibition she did was titled profile pic. She is currently working on a stage perfomance she will do on the 31 and she is directing it. She is based in Bulawayo. Nomvuyiso can work with different people under any condition.

 Shamilla Aasha: Born in Hwange Zimbabwe in 1977. She was raised and educated in Bulawayo,and eventually obtained a Diploma in Textile Design from the Bulawayo School of Art and Design in 2000. After a sabbatical from professional painting Shamilla emerged in 2018 with a mature body of work. The work also displays a developing interest in depicting the spaces that exist for women socially, politically and economically in Zimbabwe. Traditionally a mixed media painter, Shamilla now leans towards textile art, in the form of soft sculptures wall-hangings made from found objects. Since her re-emergence Shamilla has participated in numerous exhibitions locally regionally and internationally. She is currently part of an ongoing, regional collaborative project, which is interrogating the participation of women in land redistribution in southern Africa.

Although out of the formal education system Shamilla continues to nurture creativity minds through her trust- Asha Children’ Trust – an organisation whose passion lies in creating safe spaces for young creatives grow and thrive.

Zandile Vanessa Masuku: Born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe on the 5th February 1983. She took art independently as a 10th subject at O’level and as a 4th at A’level. After obtaining the art subject prize she went on to study Architecture at the University Of Brighton, England graduating in 2008 and moving to London the same year before returning to Zimbabwe in 2009. Whist in the UK she self-taught Alto Saxophone, wrote poetry and performed the spoken word. Architecture provided the opportunity to visit multiple scale and notable galleries in England, France and Spain. In 2010 her son was born, which was a pivotal point in her life as she gained ambitiousness which she never had before. In 2012/13 and 2013/14 she was awarded ‘ The Best Female Artist award’ by V.A.A.B. In 2013 she had her first Solo exhibition at The National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo entitled ‘Dot connected’. her First International feature was in 2015 in Alberta, Canada. She has since shown at various galleries in group exhibitions abroad and locally. As an Environmentalist at heart she hopes to create dialogues with other people and form more connections for collaborative opportunities.

For more details please contact the Curator on +263 2922 70721 or email: c.zulu@nationalgallery.co.zw