Clay depicts hope, energy and growth

“To be true to Adelaide Tambo, depicting not the political activist but the abundant person, the warm mother, the elegant woman who loved art, music, fun and life.”

This is what Cape Town ceramicist Andile Dyalvane is determined to achieve with the pot he has been commissioned to create by Tselane Tambo in honour of her mother, Adelaide Tambo.

Andile’s unique design in his clay creations is strongly influenced by the traditional Xhosa practice of ukuqatshulwa, or body scarification, in which clay “flesh” is gently sliced open to resemble the tribal skin markings used as body adornment, and to seek spiritual protection for the family.

“The design on the pot will depict my interpretation of prominent memories that Tselane describes of her mother and of the happy times they shared as a family when the kids were growing up.

“Adelaide Tambo loved stylish hats and good jazz. “The family had an old jalopy they would drive around in. I’ve woven these elements into the design, reflecting her energy and warmth, and showing that there was far more to Adelaide Tambo than her political strength,” says Andile.

He says that for him, the honour of having been asked to design something celebrating this great woman — who he is too young to have met, but who he has always known about — is enormous.

“I’m from the generation that is reaping the fruits that Adelaide Tambo and others worked so hard to achieve.

“It’s very humbling and a great privilege to be chosen to create a pot in her honour and I am putting my heart into the piece.”

Andile’s style with his ceramics is inspired by African artefacts that serve practical use.

For centuries, pots of all sizes have been used to mix, brew, store, carry and cook food and liquids, and they play a prominent role in tribal culture.

Although he is skilled in a wide variety of art mediums, clay has always been the form that Andile best connects with — he believes it’s in his blood.

As a boy growing up in the rural Eastern Cape, Andile and his friends would spend hours fashioning animal figures out of river clay when they were meant to be herding the village’s livestock.

“Working with clay reminds me of home and who I am, and the smell of clay reminds me of the scent of rain on the earth — a smell of hope, energy and growth. Working with clay provides me with a powerful medium to communicate stories about life,” says Andile.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Covid plateau in Western Cape carries ‘be vigilant’ warning

The province has reported a drop in new infections, especially in densely populated areas such as Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain, Gugulethu, Nyanga and Manenberg.

Wet worries for Cape Town’s poorest a perennial issue

A fortnight after an early winter downpour, a recently established informal settlement comes to terms with the Cape’s hydromorphology of seasonal floodplains.

Back in time to meals on wheels

Cape Town’s oldest roadhouse is hoping to make a comeback during the coronavirus lockdown. Nostalgia is the biggest seller

Cape Town learners identify as coloured; the curriculum and teachers say they’re Biko black

The teenagers, who clearly understood that race is fluid – some even changed their identity – felt shunned. If race is socially constructed, they should not be ignored.

Pressure to remove colonial relics grows

This week, the Black People’s National Crisis Committee (BPNCC) said it would intensify protest if activists are not listened to.

SA activist seeks asylum in Ireland

Former Khayelitsha resident Bulelani Mfaco is leading a campaign for the protection of refugee rights in that country

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed

White men still rule and earn more

Women and black people occupy only a few seats at the JSE table, the latest PwC report has found

The PPE scandal that the Treasury hasn’t touched

Many government officials have been talking tough about dealing with rampant corruption in PPE procurement but the majority won't even release names of who has benefited from the R10-billion spend

ANC still at odds over how to tackle leaders facing...

The ANC’s top six has been mandated to work closely with its integrity committee to tackle claims of corruption against senior party members

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday