THE RIBOLA EXPERIENCE

An evocative piece by the father of the Ribola Art Route, the late Jackson Hlungwane.

A short road-trip from Makhado takes you into Limpopo’s creative hub – to the home-galleries of some of the country’s most renowned artists and sculptors. Ribola Art Route is an area rich with talent, finding inspiration in the creatures around them as well as the beasts of mythology, the heroes of the bible and the ordinary people from their own village. 

More than the creative influence for these works of art, however, it is the enthusiasm of the artists themselves which makes the experience come alive, as you will discover when you visit the late Jackson Hlungwane’s sons, Johannes Maswanganyi, David Murathi, Noria Mabasa or Thomas Kubayi. Jackson Hlungwani is considered to be the father of the Ribola Art Route. A world-renowned sculptor, he inspired and mentored many of the artists in the area. His son, Gezland carries on the legacy with his unusual wooden carvings and his storytelling ability.

Head up to the top of the world at Patrick Manyike’s gallery above the crossing of the two rivers. Patrick is a talented young sculptor who will delight you with his passion as he coaxes the story out of wood with his home-made tools and his skilful hands.

Artist Patrick Manyike at his home studio in Mbokota village, Limpopo.

Sitting under a shady tree, high above the river-crossing and the village views, Patrick pays patient attention to teaching you his craft of wood sculpting. His quirky sense of humour and enjoyment of the time spent working together is infectious and you can go home with our own piece of sculpted art.

Down the road at the Vhutsila Art School, world-renowned artist and mentor, Thomas Kubayi displays his beautiful wooden sculptures in his home-gallery and his sought-after hand-carved benches under the spreading Marula Tree.

Artist and mentor, Thomas Kubayi at his home studio and Art School, Vhutshila.

Kenneth Nonyana's home studio in Tshivuyuni Village.

Suddenly, out of the maze of roofs, is a makeshift gallery displaying the work of talented sculptor Kenneth Nonyana whose unique wooden creations reflect the struggles of the community around him.

From there, a short drive takes you to Pilato Bulala’s home-studio in Zama Zama Village where he is hard at work on his next creation. This young man is pushing the artistic boundaries with his “Scraptures’ – art from old scrap metal and bits of machinery.  Pilato’s work ranges from a working car complete with bicycle wheels and a sound system to traditional figures made from wheel sprockets to delicate jewellery created from cold-drink cans. Here is a young inventor-creator who makes magic out of metal others throw away and you can make your own earrings with Pilato as your inspirer and teacher.

Pilato Bulala working on his latest scrapture.


David Murathi cooking at his home in Mashau Village, Limpopo.

Artist, Traditional Healer, Counsellor and Cultural Leader, David Murathi captures the real emotions and understanding of his context in his sculptures which beckon you to their side to tell their story, to pass on the secrets, to enrich your understanding of the deep and ancient cultural rhythms of Venda at his beautiful home-gallery at Mashau.

World-renowned Sculptor, Johannes Maswanganyi has exhibited locally and overseas and his painted corkwood sculptures tell a rich story of traditions, myths and modern politics. His son, Amorous Maswanganye, brings his own youthful perspective to issues such as teenage pregnancy and tradition meets modern in a woman in full traditional Tsonga dress, speaking on a cell phone. This inspiring home-gallery in Noblehoek, near Giyani is well worth the drive.

A variety of bright and bold figurines in Corkwood made by Amorous.

Johannes Maswanganyi, at his studio in Noblehoek near Giyani.

The Ribola Art Route, near Elim, personifies this African spirit – a melting pot of Tsonga, Venda and Shangaan cultures. Visit any one of these artists or make a road-trip out of it and learn how to make art from scrap or how to coax a story from the wood. 

Come closer, discover the artist’s soul on the Ribola Art Route.