Johannesburg – Controversial visual artist Ayanda Mabulu slaughtered a goat at the Kalashnikovv Gallery in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, to mark the opening of his unusual "Ubuhle Bekhiwane Ziimpethu" solo exhibition.
On Thursday night, Mabulu brought his Eastern Cape roots to the centre of urban chic in South Africa.
It was an evening of IsiXhosa song and dance as Mabulu briefly shut down De Beer and Juta streets in Braamfontein on Thursday night with an ensemble of dancers.
"Ubuhle Bekhiwane Ziimpethu" is an ancient IsiXhosa expression warning any person blindly charmed by beauty to be vigilant.
After burning impepho (incense) inside the intimate gallery, Mabulu gathered art lovers about 100 metres from Kalashnikovv and a few minutes later the ensemble was dancing down De Beer Street, temporarily blocking traffic.
He walked behind the dancing quintet dragging the goat on its final journey.
While stares and gasps of shock greeted the slaughter inside the gallery, Mabulu, assisted by two men, kept his cool and ensured that the goat met its end as he intended.
A group of traditional dancers summoned the ancestral spirits throughout the evening and neither Mabulu nor the curator made any speeches as art lovers expect on the opening night of an exhibition.
Among the works being exhibited is a huge canvas of late struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela as a knight in colourful armour.
The piece is interwoven with colourful fabric by fashion designer Laduma Ngxokolo, whose MaXhosa label has gone international and is favoured by the likes of DJ Black Coffee, songstress Alicia Keys and husband, producer and rapper Swizz Beatz.
As expected, Mabulu also takes a swipe at the ANC ahead of the elections in May with another artwork showing a gold ballot box with the governing party and the Independent Electoral Commission’s logos and naked buttocks on top.
The slaughtering in Braamfontein follows a similar ceremony in Cape Town’s Clifton Beach when activists slaughtered a sheep to "cleanse the area of racism" following the removal of beachgoers in December by private security guards.
Mabulu’s exhibition runs until March 2.