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Beautiful Matobo homes

Beautiful Matobo homes

Beautiful interiors in beautiful Matobo rural homes
Beautiful interiors in beautiful Matobo rural homes


John Knight:  johnazknight@yahoo.com  

Veronique Attala: zouero@gmail.com


Matopos is a World Heritage Site recognised for having the highest concentration of rock art in the world. However, today’s communities in the Matobo District also have a rich artistic culture, including the traditional practice of painting the exteriors and interiors of their rural homes using only their hands and natural pigments obtained from soils and ashes.

The exquisite beauty of this art and the realisation that this skill needs to be preserved and encouraged has spearheaded a worthwhile and exciting project. In 2014 a group of passionate enthusiasts came together to launch My Beautiful Home Competition. 

Through research they became aware that this art form is dwindling and they felt compelled to create a vehicle to revitalise the practice - and so the competition began. The photographs that illustrate this story are of just three of 26 entries that left the group of judges and the photographer awestruck at the talent, pride and innovation of the women who paint these homes. 

After spending a wonderful evening with John Knight and Butholezwe Nyathi, who are two of the competition coordinators (there are seven members in total), I am left in no doubt that this project is something truly special. Photographer Andre Van Rooyen was so moved by the project that he said “We should change the name of this competition to ‘My Beautiful Life’.”

In 2014 two wards in the Matobo District participated; all the artists had adorned their homes well in advance of the competition being announced, so the artwork was not done to gratify judges and in the hope of winning a prize. With much motivation and dedication, the 2015 competition is on track, with entry forms circulating in seven wards, with one ward  indicating that it is expecting in the region of 100 entries.

Due to this positive response, the judging will involve a team of community leaders who will choose the finalists. From the seven wards there will be a total of 35 finalists, five from each ward, all hoping to win either the coveted Golden Indlu (home) or the Golden Iziko (kitchen).

The project is looking for practical ways to benefit the communities and artists that are participating in order to encourage this artistic practice and give much needed assistance to the ladies participating. They are looking for sponsors to provide prizes like scotch carts, draft ploughs, hoes, water tanks, wheelbarrows, solar panels, cooking utensils, blankets and food items.

It doesn’t take much to entice me into Matopos, and now I have even more reason to go. I shall now visit with eyes scanning the roadsides looking for these beautiful Matobo homes.

Factfile :

·         All pigments used are from natural soils and ashes

·         Traditionally women are the artists

·         All artwork is done using their hands

·         Every year the artwork is re-done after the rains and harvest

·         Skills are handed down from mother to daughter