South Africa’s well renowned Ndebele artist Mama Esther Mahlangu has done amazing work worldwide, from working with legends to creating iconic pieces and today at 81 receives an honorary doctorate from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) on Monday

Speaking to The Star ahead of the ceremony, Mahlangu, 81, said she was humbled to be honoured.

“Being recognised at home is such a blessing. It shows that my people still see the great work that I do,” she said.

Mahlangu who began painting as a child, at the age of 10 being taught the art of Ndebele homestead wall painting and beadwork by her mother and grandmother.

“I am so excited and look forward to it. I am still at home preparing to go UJ. I am going to be driven to that side and I will make sure that I arrive on time,” said Mahlangu.

Her work came to international attention in 1989 after her inclusion on the important exhibition Magiciens de la terre, held at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

As a national icon and custodian of heritage Mahlangu has been honoured with awards and medals by Government many times, and by more than one South African president.

She received the Order of Ikhamanga, silver class, in 2006, as well as the Mpumalanga Arts and Culture Award, an award from the French Ministry of Culture, two awards from Radio Ndebele, and many others from South Africa and abroad.