The South Ndebele People of Southern Africa have the amazing tradition of painting their houses with brightly coloured geometric designs. The custom started after the Ndebele moved from straw huts to mud-walled houses in the mid 1800s. The loss of the 1883 war with the neighbouring Boer settlers brought hardship and repression for the Ndbele. Their symbolic art is said to have taken form during this harsh period, as a subtle language of cultural resistance which went undetected by the Boers.
Esther Mahlangu has become world famous as a master of the Ndebele painting style. Since being discovered by a team of french culture and art researchers in the mid eighties, she has done commissioned work across the world, including an art car for BMW in 1991. More recently she has also decorated the new Fiat 500.