Zethu Maseko


Mamlambo’s voice rings silent but deafening: Mamlambo’s song

This digital embroidery piece explores cultural hybridity, referencing Celtic scrolls, Celtic symbols and Southern African symbols. The middle figure, Mamlambo, exhibits her snake tongue and sits in a posture resembling that of a renaissance portrait. Mamlambo is depicted with a mixture of Caucasian and African features. The electric mbira (originally a stone age, tuned percussion instrument, still used today in Southern African traditional music and ritual) heard in the soundscape is crafted by me from bamboo, walnut and steel. The mbira is believed to function as a tool to open up a channel to communicate with ancestors and to heal mental and physical illness. Whilst investigating my identity through sound, I am reclaiming pre-colonial healing traditions that have been suppressed by dominant colonial dynamics. I use my voice to release deep unexpressed feeling, embodying Mamlambo’s persona by elongating the ‘s’ in each word sung.