Franzine Ndimande
Joyce Ndimande


Ndebele Artist



Born in South Africa



We interviewed Joyce, who acted as our translator with Franzine








After a long two weeks of traveling through the Namibian desert and Botswana, Paul, Jean-Paul Dispaux and I finally returned to South Africa where we had two more stops before ending our safari in Johannesburg. The first stop was in a small dusty town where we hoped to meet with some artists of the Ndebele culture. I was familiar with some of their painting, but otherwise, I really did not know what the Ndebeles were all about. We spent an entire afternoon trying to find someone who could direct us past the town's market place. Mainly we met with blank stares and shoulder shrugs. At long last we found ourselves at a Catholic Mission where one of the Fathers finally understood what we were looking for. Or perhaps I should say, WHO. Franzine Ndimande. The most internationally renowned Ndebele artist. What I found so amazing about her painting (and all Ndebele work), is that it is completely freeform. No drawn design, no rulers. Just pure freehand geometric paintings that are based completely on the individual artist's (always a woman) resources (paint), and mindset. Interestingly, the Ndebeles do not consider themselves to be artists. Painting and beadwork are just a part of their everyday activities.

Charity Ellis


Being born and raised in South Africa as a white person during a very tumultuous time did not serve me well in my exposure to the myriad of tribes living in South Africa.

In returning back to South Africa after fifteen years abroad, I made a special point of getting a better understanding of the Ndebele tribe. The artwork they produce is very unique to their culture. They have no formal training and generally all of the women do the work.

Joyce Ndimande, Franzine's daughter could speak English fairly well and was a superb interpreter and interviewee. I listened intently to what Joyce had to say about their history and culture. It is now, only after leaving that I realize what a special meeting it had been for me.

Paul Jorgensen


'The Ndebele history begins about 350 years ago, when a section of the Nguni, then migrating down the south-east coast of Africa, diverged under the leadership of a man named Musi. They wandered into the Transvaal, eventually settling on the site of modern Pretoria. In their new home the migrant people developed new styles of dress and art. The Sotho of the Highveld named them maTebele or 'refugees' and this became in their own native language Ndebele. The original Sotho term has been corrupted to 'Matabele' by Europeans. The Ndebele survived the troubles of the early 19th century by discreetly hiding in the bush. They never possessed enough wealth to arouse the murderous attentions of raiding Zulu bands. In the process of trying to remain alive, however, they divided. One section remained immediately north of Pretoria; a second section moved east to the Olifants River, where they became known to the Europeans as the Mapochs, from their chief Mabogo; a third section wandered northwards into the area of modern Potgietersrus. A few other minor sections of the Ndebele are found in different parts of the Transvaal. Some sections disappeared entirely in the tribal wars of the last century.'

Michael Hegarty