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Proud to announce our new collaboration with the Ndebele Tribe!

Proud to announce our new collaboration with the Ndebele Tribe! - Spiritgirl Activewear

After several weeks of work, Spiritgirl is proud to announce our new collaboration with Ndebele Tribes of South Africa. We are excited to reveal the design of our Ndebele Tribal Queen in partnership with five amazing Ndebele woman painters from Verena village of Mpumalanga. This incredible adventure was not only a partnership… but also a real cultural experience. The goal of this project is to promote and enhance the South African cultural diversity and traditional craftsmanship. The Ndebele woman will receive split proceeds from the sales per leggings and tops. 

The Ndebele 

The Ndebele are a South African Tribe recognized for the quality of their art which blends painting with architecture. While men build houses, the painting of murals is indeed an abstract art reserved for women. The Ndebele art uses a palette of vivid colors and many geometric shapes highlighted by thick black lines. The rigor and the purity of the forms reflect the eminently contemporary spirit of Ndebele art. This abstract and minimalist graphics language could be brought closer to the researchers of Kandinsky or Mondrian
The aesthetic Ndebele was born in a colonial period. In the nineteenth century, after having resisted Boer farmers (white settlers of Dutch origin) who coveted the land, they were enslaved in their own territory. Throughout this period, art has emerged as both a tool of struggle, a factor of resilience, cultural cement and the affirmation of an identity that did not intend to disappear.

Two decades later, what happens to the Ndebele? The latter tribes live in the provinces of Gauteng and Mpumalanga. Many beading and specimens of painted walls have fed private collections and entered South African and foreign museums. The genius of Ndebele women who witness a historic period marked by colonization tends to be exported. Indeed, Ndebele art has, for some years already, been recognized on the world art scene. It began at the Magicians of the Earth exhibition at the Centre Gorges Pompidou in Paris in 1989, where a house with traditional architecture was painted by a Ndebele woman: Esther Mahlangu. Then, in 2004, Ndebele Women were invited to design a BMW and in 2007 to decorate a large French stadium. This shows the modernity of this art which is today, always of its time.

Our Collaboration 

Spiritgirl aims to preserve the South African heritage and this new collaboration will hopefully bring back awareness to this traditional art form. Thanks to this latest edition, Spiritgirl promotes the know-how of these Ndebele women.  By purchasing one of these Ndebele designs, you support these women, allow them to flourish in their trade and keep this art form alive!

Our 5 Ndebele Painters Stories : 

• Mirriam Mahlangu

"I was born in 1957 in Witbank. I learned art from my grandmother because on Christmas day she loved to do panting in our home. When I was young I helped her. Then I got married in Ndebele Watervaal ln 1993. I came to Verena in 1994. When l got there I recruited women and children to paint. I registered the company as cooperative. We are doing art, beads, dressmaking and Ndebele dancing. Many people gained experience at Kgodhlelela. We are ten people, nine women, and one man.

Olivia Maepa

"I was born in 1988 in Jane Furse. I started school at Moretsele and Molepane primary in Jane Furse. I attended high schools in Jane Furse at Molepane and Ngwanamatlala high schools. I learned art after I got married in 2015 at Verena. I then join Kgodhlelela women's group in 2015. My first love was always doing art and now I can do anything about the Ndebele culture."

Sara Kabine

"I was born in Mokobola in 1966.  I learn art from my grandfather when I was young. I joined Kgodhlelela women's group in 2016 I learn more at Kgodhlelela."

•Emily Masombuka

"I was born in 1944 in Swartkoopies. My aunt was always doing Ndebele culture painting. I join Kgodhlelela women's group in 2013 to get experience and now I have it." 

• Rose Masobuku

"I was born in 1961in Vaal. My sister taught me how to paint. Then in 2016 I joined Kgodhlelela women's group. Now I can do anything because I have experience."

A massive thank you to these ladies as well as our French interns Sybil Dechin and Juliette Konrad for initiating this project. Another shoutout to our photographer Rachel King models Danielle De Wet and Marillac Mukundwa. We could not have done this without you.

Watch the full video here

View the final product