As the legend goes – Ex Africa semper a liquid novi – out of Africa there is always something new. In cynical times, the Latin saying can be deemed a cliché, especially when nay-sayers insist on reminding us of misfortune, corruption, barbarism, beggary, of the toxic, prejudicial, yet persistent view of Africa’s failure to mirror the West. But as Steve Bantu Biko famously reminded us, in I write what I like, Africa’s contribution to the world lies not in industrial innovation, or military might – the core ingredients of every colonizing force – but in something far more precious – humanity. Africa’s power lies in its spirit of Ubuntu, in relationality, in returning to the world its ‘human face’.
In April 2022, I led the first biological expedition focusing on dung beetles at Mount Mabu in the Zambézia Province of Mozambique. The expedition team was composed of Dr Werner Strümpher (Ditsong Museum of Natural History), Mr Isildo Nganhane (Universidade Lúrio, Mozambique) and I (PI of the project – Fig. 1). Werner and I flew from South Africa to Nampula (northern Mozambique), and Isildo took a bus from Maputo to Nampula. We hired a company that drove us from Nampula to the village of Tacuane (Zambézia Province, Mozambique). There is no road from Tacuane to Mount Mabu, thus, we hired local porters to carry our camping/kitchen gear and fieldwork equipment (Fig. 2). We took eight hours of hiking from Tacuane to the camping site inside of Mabu Forest.
Tiger Flies (Fig. 1), scientifically called Coenosia are small inconspicuous grey flies. They belong to a family of flies called the Muscidae, generally referred to as “Houseflies” but they are not your stereotypical pesky housefly (Fig. 2) and are not likely to come into your house to irritate you like their cousins. You see, these little flies are actually fierce predators and typically hunt all kinds of insects.
Extract from the Keynote Address delivered by Dr M Mushonga* at the Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Bloemfontein, 4 October 2022.
The Man/Woman in the Mirror
So, this evening I am going to try and talk about what I think are some of the key lessons we learn from Pitika Ntuli’s Azibuyele Emasisweni (Return to the Source) art which scored a first at the Global Fine Arts Awards. Yet in order to speak to the art, it is important to know the person behind the art. Yet, what do I know about he who has been described by many as an exceptional artist. From where I stand, Pitika is not an exceptional artist because exceptional artists do not exist. There has never been an exceptional artist anywhere, anytime.
Almost all terrestrial animals have some type of claw. Vertebrates like mammals, reptiles and birds have claws made from a protein called keratin, while invertebrates for example insects, spiders and mites have claw-like structures made from a combination of chitin, calcium carbonate and sclerotin. A typical claw is a curved, strong, often hard appendage at the end of a limb. Nails in humans are also made of keratin, but don’t end in a sharp or curved point. Claws have various functions such as walking, climbing, digging, catching and self-defense. Anyone who owned a cat can confirm their claws are very efficient for defense!