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Chief Langalibalele - Life Size

Chief Langalibalele (isiHlubi: The sun is boiling hot), aca Mtetwa, (c1814 – 1889)


In the sculpture the sculptors wanted to depict forward movement - as Langalibalele was constantly on the move with his people trying to avoid conflict. Langalibalele is depicted in a rough finish as it suited his character. He wore an european uniform, yet there's a lot of traditional symbolism: leopard armband as a chief, shield, knobkierie & assegaai. The rifle is to symbolise his reason for conflict with the then Colonial authorities. A waterbottle - as he was also considered a rainmaker. A goats horn in his hat to symbolise his constant communication with the ancestors.

Client: National Heritage Foundation - Mr Dali Tambo


Langalibalele was king of the amaHlubi, a Bantu tribe in what is the modern-day province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.He was born on the eve of the arrival of European settlers in the province. After conflict with the Zulu king Mpande, he fled with his people to the Colony of Natal in 1848. During the diamond rush of the 1870s, many of his young men worked on the mines in Kimberley where they acquired guns. In 1873 the colonial authorities of Natal demanded that the guns be registered, Langalibalele refused and a stand-off ensued, resulting in a violent skirmish in which European troopers were killed. Langalibalele fled across the mountains into Basutoland, but was captured, tried and banished to Robben Island. Langalibalele was therefore one of the first Black activists to be banished to Robben Island, nearly a century before Nelson Mandela and numerous other activists were imprisoned there

He eventually returned to his home, but remained under house arrest. His imprisonment split the colonial population of Natal and was a watershed in South African political history.

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