Bana Ba Metsi Bana Ba Moya
Many African children grow up in homes where our first encounters with the spiritual realm begin at home. Usually, the birth of our spiritual journeys come to life in conversations with our elders and through seeing them pray with all their hearts among other acts. I attended Boitumelo Machaba’s Bana Ba Metsi Bana Ba Moya exhibition; a body of work that is an embodiment of the life that we carry as spirits. Machaba allowed me into her intimate space, both in the exhibition and in our hour long conversation. Her words and the conversation in its entirety felt warm. This is a piece on what Bana Ba Metsi Bana Ba Moya signifies for Machaba.
An ode to her grandmother, her guardianship
Machaba’s journey with her spirituality finds its birth in her relationship with her grandparents. Hence the body of work is an ode to the woman whose prayers and relationship with God blessed her with her own. Her ode gifts those who inhabit her exhibition space her personal spiritual journey with the Zion Apostle Church. In addition, Bana Ba Metsi Bana Ba Moya reflects on the Zion Apostle Church’s mediums of healing: the spirit and the water. Rivers and iwasho are sources of healing together with bath salts, each with its own function. Additionally, the colours of the Zion Apostle are present in her body of work. Each colour of cloth her subjects wear on their backs is representative of the Church in its entirety; her work looks at the Zion Apostle spiritual journey as a whole.
It is through this work, this embodiment of what spirituality means to her and what she learned from her grandmother’s own spiritual expression, that Machaba shares her spirit with our own. It is important to express that Machaba’s work is not a complete narrative; she is in the process of discovering, learning. This is a journey that she is still embarking on. When she sees it, she remembers her grandmother who she calls her isithunwya, her guardian angel.
It heals something within you
Machaba offers us what spirituality has offered her, healing. She believes that we are all spiritual beings who should not have to live our lives in search of our essence. Her work, in our eyes, is a space where our spirits feel safe. Bana Ba Metsi Bana Ba Moya breathes life into an aspect of our lives that we try to hide because of how the world perceives African Spirituality. In addition, language plays a significant role in her work. Expressing spirituality in a language we grew up speaking is something our spirits will never not acknowledge. Her work does not lose its meaning within us. Therefore, her body of work is personal. It urges us to look within ourselves and write our own history.