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Esther Mahlangu honored by the French ministry


Pretoria – The French Embassy in Pretoria celebrated France’s National Day in Pretoria on Friday by honoring acclaimed South African artist Ndebele, Dr Esther Mahlangu, whose Ndebele creations have been admired around the world.

The French Ambassador to South Africa Christophe Farnaud presented Dr Mahlangu with the Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres prize on behalf of the French Minister of Culture during the celebrations at the embassy.

“Hello (hello) and thank you very much (thank you very much). I went to France and they really respected my job. They invited me to paint a house like mine, then they sent me around the world to show my work, ”said Mahlangu at the reception packed with diplomats, businessmen and French expats. .

Mahlangu is among the first artists to put Ndebele art on canvas and uses primary colors. She is well known for painting with a chicken feather.

The Order of Arts and Letters was created in France in 1957 and is awarded by the French Ministry of Culture in recognition of significant contributions to the enrichment of the arts and literature in France and abroad.

Mahlangu learned traditional Ndebele wall painting and beadwork from her mother and grandmother as a child. In 1986, while working in a Ndebele cultural village in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, the artwork she was creating on her house was noticed by French researchers in Paris. She was invited to create murals for an international exhibition of contemporary art in France and, upon her return in 1990, she began painting murals in public places in South Africa, soon followed by places in Europe and the United States.

At 83, Mahlangu still travels regularly, participates in exhibitions in many of the world’s most respected national museums and galleries, and is regularly invited to collaborate with celebrities and popular global brands. She is one of the most acclaimed South African artists in the world and is considered by many to be a national treasure.

Other South African citizens who received the order are Johnny Clegg (1991), William Kentridge (2013), Gregory Maqoma (2017) and Zanele Muholi (2017).

The July 14 celebration was also an opportunity to bid farewell to Ambassador Farnaud who has completed his posting in South Africa. A seasoned diplomat, Farnaud was a particularly active and enthusiastic ambassador who made great progress in strengthening relations between France and South Africa.

“This is an amazing country and I will miss South Africa. I wish South Africa all the best in this new, very rich phase,” said Farnaud. “South Africa and France share a commitment to multilateralism and we need more collective action. “

Farnaud also highlighted the strong investment of French companies in South Africa, saying that 60,000 jobs in South Africa depend on French companies.

July 14 marks a turning point in the French Revolution, with the capture of the old royal fortress in 1789.

News from Pretoria

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