Dithugula tša Malefokana: paying libation in the photographic archive made by anthropologists E.J. & J.D. Krige in 1930s Bolobedu, under Queen Modjadji III

Master Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

University of Cape Town

How, and in what ways, might a visually - and artistically - inclined person gain knowledge from a body of ethnographic photographic objects? I approach this question by launching an inquiry into the Balobedu of Limpopo province, South Africa as masters of myth - making, the 1930s anthropologists as masters of perception and myth transmission, the camera as a mechanical tool that has no master and the photographic image and object as a slippery abstract, or thing, that resists taming. What binds Balobedu, anthropologists and photography in this relationship is their collaboration at particular points in time in the production of the knowledge that is now Khelobedu. Khelobedu refers to all knowledge, custom, practices and culture emanating from Bolobedu and its people. To do this, I assume, or play with, the character of ' motshwara marapo ' (keeper of the bones or master of ceremonies), a versed person who officiates in ceremonies involving multiple custodies, doing so by reciting stories and enacting activities that facilitate progress within ceremonies and rituals. My engagement explores the process of pacifying a disavowed ethnographic archive using the performative aspect of the photographic object's materiality with the aim of gaining knowledge of the indigenous and colonial, using concepts with origins in both categories

Includes bibliographical references.