Zizipho Poswa: ‘I celebrate my heritage, and I forge my own way’

South African designer and artist Zizipho Poswa talks about her iLobola collection and the traditions that inspired it, in a new video by Southern Guild Gallery in cooperation with BMW South Africa

South African ceramicist Zizipho Poswa working on a piece from the iLobola collection for Southern Guild
Cape Town-based artist and designer Zizipho Poswa working on a piece from the iLobola collection
(Image credit: designer Zizipho Poswa)

The work and creativity of Zizipho Poswa is celebrated through a solo exhibition and film by South African gallery Southern Guild. The Cape Town-based ceramicist has long paid tribute to African womanhood through her large-scale ceramic pieces, and with iLobola the artist and designer delves deeper into Xhosa traditions.

Watch: Zizipho Poswa's iLobola

The new film accompanying Poswa's first solo exhibition celebrates the inspiration behind the iLobola series, a collection of ceramic and bronze pieces referencing the rituals of lobola, or bride-wealth. The tradition, Poswa explains, is based on the symbolic value that cattle carry in Xhosa culture, offered as a form of payment to the bride’s family after a process of negotiation. This practice, observes Poswa, is crucial for ‘ukwakhiwa kobuhlobo’, the building of relations between the two families.

Zizipho Poswa: ‘I celebrate my heritage, and I forge my own way’

(Image credit: press)

The collection comprises 12 large-scale sculptures, each representing a different element, or role-playing aspect of the lobola process. The vessels' textured and colourful anthropomorphic forms are topped by a pair of horns, referencing the cattle symbolism.

‘There are many things you can call me,’ recites Poswa in the video. ‘I’m an artist, a businesswoman, a breadwinner, I am a mother, a daughter, a sister and a survivor. My inspiration comes from my culture, and from the path I walked as a woman. I am the woman I am because of my heritage. I stand in tribute to the other women who have shared the load. So working with clay is like a dance, it will follow if you lead it. But once it goes in the kiln, anything can happen. It’s like a grown up child: you have to let go. I celebrate my heritage, and I forge my own way: my work is an act of intention, and this is what must be known about African women.’ §


Zizipho Poswa iLobola is on view until 01 July 2021


Southern Guild
Silo 5, Unit 5B
South Arm Road
Silo District
V&A Waterfront
Cape Town, 8001
South Africa


Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.