Zulu Basket Weaver Reuben Ndwandwe – The Weaving Pride of Zululand
Zulu Basket Weaver Reuben Ndwandwe – On March 24, 1943, in the small, rural area of Hlabisa, Reuben Ndwandwe took his first breath. Ironically this would be the same town to witness his last on June 15, 2007. Indigenous art is prevalent in the outer lying areas of Zululand and the artistic flair of the people native to the area is clearly evident. Ndwandwe was one of the finest that Zululand has produced. An artist in his own right.
Zulu Basket Weaver Reuben Ndwandwe – Changing Perceptions, Broadening Minds
Reuben took a keen interest in weaving as early as his primary school years and took great pleasure in the products he produced. At the age of 18, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and hospitalised. It was this illness that brought him back to his love for weaving and allowed him to become a master in his craft. Although the craft was often considered one undertaken by women, Ndwandwe single-handedly changed that perception. His attention to detail and impeccable, finishings both inside and out is what made him shine. His customary shield designs, bar edging, and cross-stitch became a trademark for the artist from Empembeni, Hlabisa. Bold colours and intricate designs characterised his artistic offerings.
Zulu Basket Weaver Reuben Ndwandwe – Roots Firmly On Home Soil
While his fame and popularity grew and his work became sought after by locals and foreigners alike, the devout Shembe man remained true to his roots. In some ways, his art was a weapon used to successfully tear down barriers on a cultural level. Fame did not change the kind-hearted soul who continued to inhabit his little home in the rural area. Anyone who visited him received the warm, broad smile for which he was endeared. Sharing his knowledge and skill gave him tremendous joy. Providing others with a tool to empower themselves and the ability to create a sustainable income is something he took great pride in fulfilling.
Zulu Basket Weaver Reuben Ndwandwe – Recognition Earned Through Passion
Over the years, Ndwandwe’s creations have taken pride of place in exhibitions all over the world. His efforts have been acknowledged and recognised through awards and titles presented to him. Not too long ago, Ndwandwe shared the honour of being awarded the title Master Craftsman with only three other individuals. It is unfortunate that he was no longer alive to receive the prestigious award in person, however, as is the belief of the African people, we are sure he was there in spirit.
Zulu Basket Weaver Reuben Ndwandwe – His work in Zululand
Article by Lisa Luiz