#LoveSA: Wow! Esther Mahlangu honoured with New York mural

2017-09-20 13:37 - Ishani Chetty
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Cape Town – Talented and legendary African artist, Esther Mahlangu has been honoured in New York, with a stunning Ndebele mural!

READ: Exciting new space emerging for artists at Artscape

Mahlangu has been specialising in Ndebele art for 70 years and her work is celebrated across the world. The unique artform was passed on to Mahlangu by her mother and grandmother while growing up in Mpumalanga.

An inspirational mural

The mural was unveiled at the South African festival which took place in TriBeCa, New York on 16 September 2017. The event was said to be filled with delicious South African food, music and vuvuzela’s chanting away to the African beat.

The New – York- based artist that created the masterpiece, Imani Shanklin Roberts stated that the work is an ode to Esther Mahlangu. Roberts is an African American born artist who focuses on communicating the language of the oppressed and unheard through her work. Roberts has long admired Mahlangu’s talent.


The mural was painted at the cross of Franklin Street and West Broadway’s Citi Bike station, spanning two lanes and has been named ‘Xola’ which means stay in peace.

Mahlangu cut the ribbon to welcome this vibrant art display to New York.


The Ndebele symbols painted on the mural are a symbol of feminine energy and a representation to stand against the oppression of society as pointed out by Robert’s Instagram post that stated,

“To you NYC, I present Xola, (Stay in Peace) --((A South African Name I named my daughter--*Alignment*))) a piece that is representative of a feminine energy force that is all encompassing, inclusive and awe-inspiring”

READ:Cape Town and NYC enter new tourism partnership 

"Esther Mahlangu is renowned the world over for her unique, colorful and geometric paintings which have inspired international brands and artists of many backgrounds across the globe. Her work has also done an amazing job of showcasing our cultures and will provide New Yorkers this summer with a sight of South Africa's vibrant Ndebele culture," Bangu Masisi, president of South African Tourism's Americas Hub, said at the official unveiling.

#blessed Thank you @citibike & #wowsouthafrica !!! XOLA

A post shared by Imani Shanklin Roberts (@imaniniasr) on


The project is a part of a tourism partnership between South African Tourism‘s US office, South African Airways and a communal bicycle platform called Citi Bike.

This is a proud moment for South Africans across the world, as we embrace our national cultures and the awstonishing beauty that they encompass. 

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