Nobukho Nqaba

Umaskhenkethe Likhaya Lam

NEW CONVERSATIONS, group exhibition

Nqaba appears in her images buried under plastic bags, bags that she uses for sleeping, cooking, keeping her clothes or even to decorate her room. These apparently innocuous objects have become a symbol of global migration not only across borders but also within countries, receiving different names all over the world: “the Bangladeshi or Refugee Bag” in the UK, “the Turkish bag” in Germany, “the Mexican bag” in the United States and “the Guyanese Samsonite” in the Caribbean. In South Africa, which is where the author hails from, they are familiarly known as “Chinese bags”, and the words employed for them in the Xhosa language are Unomgcana (the one with lines) or Umaskhenkethe (the traveller). For Nqaba they represent their own migration and she explains that she has a love-hate relation with them, as they symbolize the struggle for survival and, at the same time, her childhood and her home.


Born in Butterworth, Eastern Cape, in 1992. She moved to Grabouw in 1998 where she attended a farm school for three years and graduated from Michaelis School of Fine Art, University of Cape Town, in 2012. In the same year she was awarded the Tierney Fellowship, mentored by Svea Josephy and Jean Brundrit. Nqaba went on to complete her postgraduate diploma in Teaching also at UCT. She has experience in teaching Art Therapy and has participated in group exhibitions locally and internationally and currently works as an artist and a Visual Arts teacher.