Exchange

By Mary Nooter Roberts
University of California, Los Angeles

Architecture can be as effective a medium as masquerade for expressing resistance and conveying political positions. Among Sotho-Tswana women of southern Africa, mural painting on homes produced a culture of resistance in rural areas to comment upon the politics of racial opposition under the apartheid regime. Because a person could be readily arrested for inscribing the initials of the banned ANC (African National Congress) into a coffee mug, sites of representation had to be necessarily elusive. It was forbidden to fly the black, green, and yellow colors of the ANC, for example, but it was impossible to arrest a woman who painted her house yellow and green and added black to the design with the negative space of the opened doors, thereby completing the ANC colors and identifying the house with the ANC's socialist program. Some mural painters incorporate Western systems of representation, such as maps and the written word, to sharpen the political critique.