Mbali Mthethwa


Mbali Mthethwa is a multidisciplinary artist, researcher and cultural practitioner whose work explores the decolonization of contemporary African identity through the process of beading. Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, she holds a bachelors degree in Community Development from the University of Johannesburg and is enrolled in the Honors Degree program at the University of Johannesburg, majoring in Anthropology.

Beading, as a form communication, has always been a labor of love for Nguni women, who have devoted time and time to it as a creative proclamation since time immemorial. However, over the years, the practice of beading has been whitewashed, stripping away its ability to be understood for its divinely spiritual beauty. As a direct result colonization of Africa by Europe, many of the continent’s customs, traditions and cultures were disrupted.

The Western-centric urban environment in which Mbali Mthethwa grew up has left her feeling disconnected from her culture. Mthethwa’s artistic endeavors have become a channel that facilitates a deeper connection with her culture. The outcome of this connection is expressed through her beading pieces, which honor and celebrate history and traditional African craft.     


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