She sees mathematics in artwork

Belinda Bantham -- Fri, 08/02/2019 - 12:40

She sees mathematics in artwork

After sharing her interesting research topic on Twitter, Monicca Bhuda – who recently obtained a master’s degree in Indigenous Knowledge Systems with distinction – became a social media sensation.

Hailing from Kwaggafontein in Mpumalanga, Monnica conducted research on the role of ethnomathematics in the cultural life of AmaNdebele women in the Mpumalanga province.

Ethnomathematics is simply put the relationship between culture and mathematics,” says Monnica. “Cultural groups use mathematical ideas and concepts for cultural identity and/or survival.”

From generation to generation

She kicked off her research at the beginning of 2017.  “I knew I wanted to conduct research about the AmaNdebele, but didn’t know which direction to take,” says Monnica.

Fortunately, her supervisor came to the rescue and came up with her research topic after some investigation. “I also had prior knowledge on ethnomathematics so it was easy for me to explore this topic,” she says.

Through her research she examined the role of ethnomathematics and how it was born in the Ndebele culture. She investigated the meaning of colours and the connotations of the shapes in Ndebele beadwork and mural art, and also focused on how knowledge is transferred from elderly women to younger females.

Monnica found that Ndebele women who never attended any formal schooling, are ethnomathematicians and have knowledge of geometry, which is visible in their beadwork and mural art.

This knowledge is shared from mother to daughter using indigenous knowledge transmission methods such as oral transmission, observation and participation.

She also found that Ndebele women use their indigenous knowledge to sustain their livelihoods. “They sell the beaded and painted artefacts they make to support their families,” she adds.

Hard work pays off

“Completing the research for my master’s was really rewarding. I am a hard worker and have sacrificed a lot to finish in record time and produce quality work,” says Monicca.

Her hard work has certainly paid off during her academic career, as she as obtained all her qualifications thus far with distinction. She is also grateful to her supervisors and mentors, and for the sponsorships she received from various organisations to fund her studies.

She is now looking forward to starting her PhD. “I want to continue exploring the indigenous knowledge of the AmaNdebele. I have a passion to preserve and promote African indigenous knowledge for this generation and those to come.”

 Monnica Bhuda is passionate about preserving and promoting indigenous knowledge, especially that of the AmaNdebele.