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Date: 2009
Dimensions: Height: 3.07m, Length: 5.57m, Width: 1.9m
Media: Galvanized mild steel, recycled rubber tyres

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Nomkhubulwane is the Zulu Goddess of rain, nature, and fertility, and is regarded as the Mother Earth. She is believed to be capable of changing into different types of animals. The name Nomkhubulwane means “she who chooses the state of an animal”.

“Nomkhubulwane is the Zulu Goddess of rain, nature, and fertility, and is regarded as the Mother Earth. She is believed to be capable of changing into different types of animals. The name Nomkhubulwane means “she who chooses the state of an animal”. In the olden days the Zulu’s would plough their fields and have a special one which was ploughed by the whole village collectivelly and was never weeded or harvested right up to the next ploughing season and the cycle would resume again. I believe there were Nomkhubulwane festivals that were held I am not sure though if it was during ploughing or harvest times.

“This elephant has been woven out of recycled motor car tyres. It was designed and built to go to WILD9 – the 9th World Wilderness Congress – in Merida the Yucatan, Mexico. It is made in collaboration with the Magqubu Ntombela Foundation and the wilderness movement, under the patronage of Dr. Ian Player, world renowned conservationist. This is one of the initiatives of the Human Elephant Foundation to explore visual and conceptual relationships with individuals and collectives that are working with issues related to the earth. This elephant serves as a creative symbolic reference that calls people to new imaginative conversations with our ailing co-existence with other living things. She forms part of a collective of other life-size elephants that are currently placed in the world to catalyze such conversations.” Andries Botha, August 2009



October 2009 – Durban to Altamira, Mexico by sea

November 2009 – Altamira to Merida, Mexico

November 2009 – Wild9 Congress – Merida, Mexico

December 09/January 2010 – Mexico City, Mexico

February 2010 – Cuernavaca, Mexico

February/March 2010 – Juarez, Mexico

March 2010 – El Paso, Texas, USA

April/May 2010 – Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA

Chicago, Illinois, USA – May/June 2010

August/September 2010 – Bozeman, Montana, USA

October 2010 – Detroit, Michigan, USA

November 2010 – Repatriation to South Africa

The Nomkhubulwane tour of North America is a creativity/environmental awareness drive using Nomkhubulwane as a metaphor which travelled United States and Mexico as a partnership between the Human Elephant Foundation, the Magqubu Ntombela Foundation, The Wild Foundation, Imagine Chicago, Papalote Museo del Niño, Municipio de Cd. Juarez, El Paso Zoo, Walmart, Office of the Mayor (City of Chicago), InterfaceFLOR, Illinois Institute of Technology, Field Museum, Bozeman Public Library, Project Nomkoo, Marygrove College, the Charles H. Wright Museum and numerous other organisations and individuals.

To accompany this tour an educational programme, designed by The Civic Knowledge Project, The University of Chicago, Division of Humanities, focusing on children, resulted in tens of thousands of children actively participating in the creative environmental relationship.

A well-travelled elephant:

Durban, SA, to Altamira, Mexico (ship) 9257 miles (flight distance)

Altamira to Merida, Mexico (road) 934 miles

Merida to Mexico City, Mexico (road) 815 miles

Mexico City to Cuernavaca, Mexico(road) 50.2 miles

Cuernavaca to Juarez, Mexico (road) 1164 miles

Juarez, Mexico to El Paso, TX, USA (road) 2.3 miles

El Paso, TX to Fayetteville, AR (road) 898 miles

Fayetteville, AR to Chicago, IL (road) 627 miles

Chicago, IL to Bozeman, MT (road)       1385 miles

Bozeman, MT to Detroit, MI (road) 1670 miles

Detroit, MI to Chicago, IL (road)   285 miles

Chicago, USA to Durban, SA (ship) 8971 miles (flight distance)

Total: 26 058.5 miles

41 693.6 km

In Paso del Norte (Juarez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas, USA) alone:

Parade of Children into Juarez on Panamerican Highway – 3000 students in parade and 1000’s more along the route.

Installation in major shopping mall – – 5 to 10,000 more (visitors/viewers)

Installation in the Cultural Center with daily activities and school visits – approx 10,000

Crossing of International Bridge – anyone’s guess, but it is one of the busiest bridges in the world

Weekend at the Chamizal National Park – approx 1000

El Paso Zoo – – Opening of the new African Exhibit and daily hands on activities for children – approx 10,000


Nomkhubulwane has been invited to be in an outdoor exhibition of the Museum Beelden aan Zee at Lange Voorhout, Den Haag, 29 May – mid September 2012.