UN/FOLDING_RE/FOLDING_FOLDED: Imiphindo kwaXhosa
… there is a need/urgency behind finding ways of locating, documenting and archiving isinxibo kwaXhosa. We need to encourage critical reflection on dress sensibilities as it is not one of the things that is formally taken into account by our own (amaXhosa as well as academics). These are conversations that should be held and had more publicly, in common settings, and that through this process we are able to open up critical reflections on so much more.
UN/FOLDING_RE/FOLDING_FOLDED: Imiphindo kwaXhosa is about critically thinking and inquiring into othered knowledges, troubling how we come to ‘listen in’ when English/western mater-reality isn’t the main mode of experiencing a group of people. It is about bringing ilali and small towns of this country/continent/creative centers in remote locations to the foreground as KEY sites of knowledge formation.
One of the central aspects of this podcast is a desire for ‘the everyday’ - our parents, uncles and cousins, seamstresses and craftsmen who are found in our neighbourhoods - being credited/made visible as contributors OR being documented as knowledge-makers so they can begin to SEE THEMSELVES in more ‘formal’ settings as key to knowledge formation.
Imiphindo encourages the act of listening back to one’s own histories and in turn we too (as the audience) get to LISTEN IN to them (as students in a master class) as being important. While here we begin to collectively hold onto our indigenous knowledges and languages.
It aims to celebrate not just dress histories but amasikho ethu, amaculo wethu and all things that encompass being umXhosa. The materials that people come to engage with are layered not only sonically but visually to present a multisensory perspective of Xhosa culture. It is a nuanced and insightful ongoing presentation of researching amaXhosa from remote sites as they join the process of making as co-authors.
uMzuzile Mhlola, Project Manager at the Bulungula Incubator in Xhora. His reflections on some of the material were some of the most profound thoughts; “inika isizatho esipheleleyo nokuzithemba nolwazi kulowo ukwesosigaba esithile sobom esimnyanzelisa athwale iqhiya. Ulwazi lungamandla.”
With these words the material is affirmed of its value for not just city/contemporary audiences but also audiences who live ezilalini who might grapple with why they should continue to uphold these histories when everything outside of them continues to move further away from their indigenous knowledges and languages.
Supported by the writings of Mr S.K. Bongela in Isihlonipho amongst amaXhosa (2001) which offers a window into the relationship between isihlonipho and various African indigenous groups like that of amaXhosa, the podcast begins to draw the parallels between dress (dress sensibilities) nesihlonipho. How does isihlonipho come to inform relationships/relations to isintu kwaXhosa?
“Isinxibo sethu will/has experienced changes, these changes being izinto that will happen in front of our very eyes and some of these changes are very illegitimate in the sense of the culture,” but with digital works like that of the podcast we find new ways of creating placeholders/vestiges for this (re)newed documentation.
Imiphindo is about bringing different facets zobuXhosa to the foreground adding to the many eruptions of (k)new knowledges that keep coming forth from African and diaspora creatives who are making their upbringing more visible in the contemporary sphere. Siyazilanda and in turn others are also returning. These works have made older generations like that of my mothers find renewed pride in their identities when our political history had previously told them to forget and perform a falsehood of identity that made them deny themselves so they could pass into the norms of those times.
Join us as we listen to Imiphindo kwaXhosa.
The James Family with special thanks to Mrs Nokugcina James for allowing the recording of umsebenzi womyeni wakhe Mr uLuphumlo James
Mrs Kutazwa James, Willowvale Makers Co-op; Kholiswa Magida, Theko Nwindaba, Philiswa Matutu, The community yakuGatyana; Cebisa Magoqoza, Mzukisi Nketshu, Thando Mandu, Thobile Tsutsu, Sikelele Thobignnya, Neliswa Bambintala, Miranda Sihlangu and the broader community at large
Youth Participants; (contibutors from Azola’s photoshoot)
Mr Mangaliso Jafta, Azola Krweqe, Ms Nobuhle James, Mrs Nokhaya Jilingisa, Mama Phakani and Zizo Ntukwisa
Willowvale Arts Center and with special thanks to the Art Center Manager, Lukhanyo Muluse
Video/Visual contributors & site acknowledgements
Azola Krweqe, Sibabalwe Makeleni
Special mention to locations referenced:
Elukhanyisweni - James Family Home kuQumbu eMdeni, Mr and Mrs James residence eHighburry Umtata, Ngumla Family Home eGcibala Tsomo, Mpintsha Family Home Nkanga Willowvale
Eastern Cape Departments of Sports Arts and Culture; Art Meets - Digital archive support on Art Meets App
Executive Producer - Bongani Tau, Content Advisor - Sihle Sogaula, Graphic Designers - 2DOTS Space Agency, Video and sound editing - Siviwe James, Curator - Siviwe James, Text by Siviwe James, Xhosa advisor - Ms Nobuhle James
All Digital Collage artworks courtesy of Siviwe James.
UN/FOLDING_RE/FOLDING_FOLDED is nestled under THE FOLD – a creative and collaborative research project led by the African Fashion Research Institute in partnership with Creative Nestlings Foundation for the New Narratives Programme 2023