Wits Art Museum (WAM)


Unknown, Igbo, Nigeria, Mmwo Maiden Spirit Mask, Wood, pigment, textile, Acquired 1979, Standard Bank African Art Collection (Wits Art Museum)


Wits Art Museum is home to an extraordinary collection of African art, including contemporary and historical art from South Africa and art from West and Central Africa. It hosts a dynamic program of events and art exhibitions. The Museum is one of Johannesburg's premier tourist attractions, along with the Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill. It is part of the Wits University Cultural Precinct, just three blocks from Nelson Mandela Bridge. WAM is in the hip, regenerating area of Braamfontein, which is also home to many students, interesting shops and places to eat. The WAM Cafe is a fun place to meet friends and enjoy delicious food and coffee.


Ngezinyawo - Migrant Journeys

 10 April - 3 August 2014

Tito Zungu. Envelope

The exhibition has been organised by Fiona Rankin-Smith, veteran WAM curator and the force behind important exhibitions such as Figuring Faith: Images of Belief in Africa (2005) and Halakasha, the soccer exhibition mounted to coincide with the 2010 World Cup.

For Ngezinwayo, she has collaborated with Peter Delius, a highly respected history Professor and widely published author at Wits University and Laura Phillips, a researcher at the Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI).  Says Delius, ‘South Africa is internationally infamous as the site of a systematic and pervasive system of racial discrimination.  What is less well known though is how uniquely fundamental migrant labour was to the making of modern South Africa.’  

This exhibition is rich and diverse bringing together the heritage of many southern African language groups. Works on display include film, photography, contemporary artworks, artefacts from ethnographic collections, archival documents and interviews. In addition, the rich forms of art, dress, dance, music and song performance that migrants crafted to assert and express their humanity feature prominently in the exhibition. 

Like the experience of migrants, visitors to the exhibition will participate in a physical journey through the museum space. They will walk the road alongside early migrants to the cities, who sought work on the mines.