LOOK: Nativity by Azaria Mbatha
One of South Africa’s most important printmakers, Azaria Mbatha was a student and later teacher at the Evangelical Lutheran Art and Craft Centre at Rorke’s Drift. In his Nativity linocut he shows a Nguni bull, two bushpigs, an elephant, and an antelope calf paying homage to the Christ child, whom a bald, long-bearded Joseph gestures toward. Three wise men approach on elephant-back from the left, and further to the left, King Herod lurks with lion and spear, waiting to pounce on this perceived threat to his power. The top two registers fast-forward to the beginnings of Jesus’s public ministry, with John the Baptist preaching repentance and baptizing Jesus.
I’m not sure who the figure at the bottom right is supposed to be. Any guesses? It’s possible he’s just a generic worshipper, or someone of local or national significance.
Igama layo nguJesu
Iyo yodwa Umsindisi
Unto us a child is born
His name is Jesus
Only he is the Savior
Musical artist Concord Nkabinde writes,
This time of the year always reminds me of my childhood & my years of growing up in Dube, Soweto. The one song that became a soundtrack for the Christmas season at that time was this simple Traditional song that really takes me back there. This is my interpretation of it.
He has overdubbed six vocal parts and multiple percussion parts.