So lucrative was the trade of uMqombothi that the Natal government soon introduced the Native Beer Act and the subsequent Durban System. This severed the main, if not the only, source of income for black women.

  • 24 May 2024 - 16 June 2024
  • Main Gallery

Russel Hlongwane | Tammy Langtry (Durban | Johannesburg)

A starting point for this installation is the 1908 Native Beer Act that illegalised and controlled the age-old production of sorghum-based beer called uMqombothi. The act was part of a global colonial system under which the production and trade of alcohol was used to dispossess black peoples in the so-called colonies across the African continent.

 

The equation of dispossession forced black men into the city whilst their wives (who were not permitted in the city) were left behind in the native reserves to fend for themselves and their children. It is against an encroaching settler capitalism that sought to tear the social fabric of the rural areas that black women soon followed to sell uMqombothi in Durban as a main source of income. So lucrative was the trade of uMqombothi that the Natal government soon introduced the Native Beer Act and the subsequent Durban System. This severed the main, if not the only, source of income for black women. These laws made way for the architectural intervention of Beerhalls, the only venue where the native could buy and consume their age-old sorghum brew. The move altered the leisure and resulted in the alcohol dependency of black men. The Durban System eventually collapsed as a result of a women-led contestation which reached its peak in 1959, popularly known as the Women’s Beerhall Riot which started in Cato Manor.

This multifaceted work finds expression in an installation which consists of screenprints, photographs, film, archival research material, (raw and processed) sorghum, digital prints on textile and amaVovo (handmade reed strainers).

Cast

Installation Russel Hlongwane I Tammy Langtry Photography Thembinkosi Hlatshwayo

Screenprints Danger Gevaar Ingozi (DGI) Research Assistant Niamh Walsh-Vorster

Film

Direction, Research & Script Russel Hlongwane | Tammy Langtry Voice-Over Phumzile Nkosi Editor & Sound Keanan Naidu 

 

Production & Realisation

Supported by OSUN – Center for Human Rights and the Arts | Division of the Bard College Arts Faculty | Fisher Center LAB (2023).

SPIELART Theatre Festival (2023)

 


Share on social media

Gallery   Tues–Fri 09.00-17.00 | Sat 09.00-16.00 | Sun 09.00-15.00

Café   Tues - Fri 08.00-17.00 | Sat 08.00-16.00 | Sun 09.00-15.00

Shop   Tues–Fri 09.00-17.00 | Sat 09.00-16.00 | Sun 09.00-15.00