Hagen Engler
3 minute read
3 Oct 2019
2:04 pm

Red clay and the white guest

Hagen Engler

I am not black, and I felt slightly awkward wearing the imbola clay, unqualified as I am to understand its full significance.

Hagen Engler.

“kulomzi… maqabaqab’ imbola…” According to my shabby isiXhosa, the lyrics mean “in the house of red clay”, and imbola, the titular clay, is indeed a part of Xhosa culture. I fondly remember the song being chanted at my wedding back in the day, where I was affixed to a beautiful Xhosa-speaking woman, of the Amampondomise nation. Imbola is worn by Xhosa people, and my early memories from my childhood in the Eastern Cape are replete with images of women adorned with the brownish-red ochre. I respected this aspect of the culture from afar – being a white person and not...