By Wande Titi
To be part of a bigger group helps us to put meaning into our lives
This is what gives us life purpose and meaning.
To prevent from being harmed or damaged.
To make or become well again.
Healing that seeks to identify and cure
Being umXhosa means being part of a cultural nation that is filled with so much richness but it also means having to uncover truths that have been hidden. We are rooted in the earth. Imbola and ifutha are the two materials that has been used in different contexts by amaXhosa as a material that is applied on the body by uMakoti, Umkhwetha, namaGqirha, to signify various transitional rituals according to age and status.
The ifutha and imbola portrayed in the photographs are sourced within the Makhanda, Sarah Baartman region with long history with both tangible and intangible heritage associated to mark various rites of passages. The photographs are framed within privatized areas where they are excavated and mined for the ceramic industry.
This body of work has not only unearthed what it means to be umXhosa but it has also taken me on a journey to understand the connection that we have with the ground(umhlaba/intlabathi) that we walk on and its healing properties.
These materials have not only been part of the amaXhosa culture for centuries, they have also carried different meanings in different spaces and with this work I begin to explore those spaces, starting with the original space where ifutha and imbola are extracted.