'The Heart that Thunders' Kunyalala Ndlovu

Wed, July 22, 2015 to Sat, August 15, 2015
  • Arthur Ginsburg- Chapelat Confectioners
  • Daisy de Melker
  • Dogs of war
  • HMS Birkenhead
  • Nonqawuse
  • Port Nolloth
  • Robert Baden Powell
  • Sarah Raal
  • Thaba Boisu
  • Tswakes Promise

The theatre that is Southern African history is stuck in a series of familiar narratives - the popular characters the world has grown to enjoy watching have remained on stage for encore after encore, whilst the rest of the cast in this epic remain behind drawn curtains. There they are lost to the long shadows of time. ‘The Heart That Thunders’ hopes to change this.

Kunyalala is the latest artist to exhibit at SMITH in Cape Town. ‘The heart that thunders’ concerns the reconstruction of the past Kunyalala descends from. He creates art that connects lost chapters of Southern African history to an alternative historical narrative. Through the use of print making, drawing, painting and film he reimagines this story for a newer audience – young Southern Africans who are curious to know more of their history and a greater global audience who are yet to see the full picture. These stories challenge the very idea of what Southern Africa was, and ultimately the identity that it holds in the present day. By shifting the perspective that the world has of this place he seeks to bring this history to a point of modern relevance.

‘Fort Rixon was a British outpost set up during the 2nd Matabele Rebellion in the 1800’s in Rhodesia. My Great Grandparents were from there until they were forced to leave in the 1950’s. It therefore came to represent the first major impact point of my personal family history and ultimately is the keyhole to the old world where all my stories exist in’ says Kunyalala.

Kunyalala uses various mediums, which allow him the ability to speak in different languages. Research is based purely from historical account – journals, newspaper trimmings, films, radio interviews, music and rare books as well as oral account forms. ‘I seek out the rarest, the ugliest and the darkest. I blow the dust off of these disparate pieces and breathe new life into stories by creating alternative africana – visually accessible to all people and faithful to the story they tell’

The intention is to push out the cast of those unseen actors and to put them in center stage. Characters such as Nongqawuse, the young Xhosa prophetess whose single vision nearly destroyed the Xhosa nation. Others like Glenda Kemp – the first white Afrikaans stripper whose provocative dance routines became the thorn in the side of conservative white South Africa in the 70’s.

‘I seek to challenge the notion of the world’s focus towards afro-futurism as a great part of the zeitgeist of African creative expression. Whilst the afro-futurists consistently sprint forwards, I look into history to learn how to walk on a different path of learning in the pursuit of the radical chronicles of my past’.

David Livingstone died on May 1st, 1873 - 142 years ago. His body is sent back to England less one vital organ - his heart. Carefully wrapped in an old flour tin, it is buried four feet deep under a tree at Ilala in Zambia. The heart remains in Africa thundering away for eternity. This story, like so many others remains practically hidden from popular history yet remains intrinsic to the story of the birth of modern Southern Africa. The body of work is designed to inspire and challenge the story we accept as normal and to present a different dialogue to the chronicles of our past. The tin must be opened up and the heart to be unwrapped. Through this action let the other tales rarely told be shown to us as they were meant to be - an alternative history of Southern Africa.