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Amadodana Ase Wesile is a national treasure Lukhanyo Mdingi on being inspired by gospel group



In 2023 Mdingi was selected as the winner of the international Amiri Prize, which saw him bag about R1.9 million and a mentorship programme.

Gospel artists aren’t usually the go-to muse for designers, in art or fashion. But Lukhanyo Mdingi found inspiration in seasoned Mzansi gospel group, Amadodana Ase Wesile for his new exhibition, The Provenance Part II.

“The intention here was to simply bring it back home. Their hymn, Siyakhudumisa Thixo is the gospel in many black homes in South Africa,” Mdingi told The Citizen.

Mdingi’s exhibition focuses on the preservation of archives, looking into the deep lineage of Bantu indigeneity and Black Consciousness in South Africa that has manifested, through themes that highlight, Textiles, Literature and Music.

“I’ve always believed that Amadodana Ase Wesile is a national treasure and through the inception of this exhibition we wanted to create an experience that highlighted the provenance of who they are and what they mean to so many of us.”

The exhibition opened at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, in early April.

“This body of work is forged and kindles the flame of its intellectual and creative expression,” explained Mdingi.

This edition of Provenance encourages a curious inquiry into the role of colonialism and mission-work in South Africa’s history, and how the introduction of certain frameworks across these three themes have become integrated into our forms of expression – always with the foundation of indigeneity at the centre.

“The work is targeted for anyone and everyone who has a keen sense and curiosity of South African history within the context of Arts and Culture,” said Mdingi.

In 2023 Mdingi was selected as the winner of the international Amiri Prize, which saw him bag $100 000 (about R1.9 million) and a year-long mentorship programme.

ALSO READ: SA fashion designer Lukhanyo Mdingi wins prestigious Amiri Prize, bagging R1.9m


Amadodana Ase Wesile is an internationally-acclaimed Methodist choir that has been one of South Africa’s top-selling music groups since 1985.

“Although the group still very much exists, all the members still lead their own separate lives on the day-to-day,” averred Mdingi.

Amadodana, as they’re simply referred to sometimes, was formed by the Methodist Church’s Young Men’s Guild (YMG) of Gauteng’s Central District. The founders are Thomas Mokhathi and Mongezi Nhose.

The former was in attendance at Mdingi’s exhibition on opening night.

“It was so wonderful to see him there, we had been in direct contact with Sony Music as well as one of their members Mr Legwale during this whole process,” shared the designer originally from Cape Town.

But Mdingi wasn’t sure about whether Mokhati would attend though.

“It was through my good friend Thabang Buthelezi, who is the granddaughter of Mr Mokhati, that I knew he would be present on the night of the opening.”

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Support on opening night

The Provenance Part II opening night was well attended, with a number of industry folk coming out to support Mdingi.

But the designer is cautions about putting too much value in his fame within creative circles, which enables him to attract the ‘cool’ audience.

The exhibition is something that is meant to be accessible for everyone. All those involved are incredibly thankful for the positive contribution that the larger public has done for this important project.”

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