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ETHWEKENI/ETHEKWINI DEBATE (article first published : 2001-04-29)

The BAT Centre has received enquiries regarding the name of Third Eye Vision's interactive arts workshop and exhibition, eThwekeni. Why 'eThwekeni' and not eThekweni/eThekwini?

Third Eye Vision responds as follows: "Legend has it that in the days before the arrival of white people to the bay of Durban, there was a clan just South of Durban called amaQadi. "Of course, then there was no Durban or even eThekwini. There was, however, eThwekeni.

"You see, as legend has it, the fertile soil around the bay provided ideal grazing grounds for the amaQadi king's cattle. It was the same king who observed that the shape of the bay bears a resemblance to that of a bull's testicle. He therefore named the area iThweke (testicle). eThwekeni contains the prefix 'e-' and the suffix '-ni' to denote 'the place of ...'.

"It was the white settlers who mispronounced eThwekeni and called eThekwini or eThekweni. Similar instances of mispronounciation led to 'uthoNgathi' becoming 'Tongaat' and 'eMbokodweni' became uMbongotwini'.

"So why have we, Third Eye Vision, chosen to use the name 'eThwekeni' instead of eThekwini as the title of our workshop and exhibition?

"The primary issue being addressed here is to answer the question: 'Who are we?' as it relates to location --geo-politically, temporally and ideologically.

"The term 'eThwekeni' contains with it this ambiguity and multiple identities within this city - Zulu, artist, Xhosa, South African, black, African, female, male, white, Indian, Durbanite, etc. The legend of iThweke, whether true or not, expresses much of our country's convoluted history, its remembrance and erasure, what is hidden and what has been recovered. As a word, it is the expression of our collective and individual consciousnesses."

The workshop phase of eThwekeni runs in the BAT Centre's painting studio until May 10.

The exhibition of multi-media works produced during the month-long workshop opens in the Centre's Democratic Gallery and Mezzanine space on May 10 and runs until June 4. The artists' collective,Third Eye Vision, is made up by UD-W and Technikon Natal graduates Gabi Ngcobo, Langa Magwa, Thando Mama, Zamaxolo Dunywa, David Haigh and Sharlene Khan.

During the workshop phase, members of the public are invited to watch the artists at work and view the progress of their works in painting, printing, sculpture, collage and other disciplines/media.

The exhibition focuses on Durban and its environment --- how artists can use the items they pick up around Durban to make art.




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