For an isiXhosa coat of arms I chose to create one for Sindi Mambinja.
We had an interview during which she told me a lot about how their family works and what they deem important. I was amazed. Because traditionally a surname is a western entity, their surnames are very different to ours. Sindi and her core family has the surname Mambinja, but technically they are Mpangele, which means guinea fowl in English. They also consider their Clan, which consists of a much larger scope of people, very important. More so a tribe mentality, something I know nothing about.
One of the most important things within Sindi’s family is their kraal at home in the Transkei. They use the entrance of the kraal as their place to speak to their ancestors. She also stipulated that her grandmother took care of her and her siblings by weaving baskets and selling them on the streets.
With the Mpangele coat of arms I wanted to move away from the traditional.
I decided to incorporate the kraal as the base, because this is where they go to pray and talk to their ancestors. One of the ancestors that Sindi speaks very highly of is her grandmother. She weaved baskets and brooms to make a living for them, so I tried to weave the paper through the kraal to represent her.
In the middle is a general Xhosa pattern, which you will usually see in weaved baskets. This pattern brings in some bright colours and places emphasis on the fact that the Mpangele family consider themselves traditional and are proud of their Xhosa tribe.
The outside consists of two blue guinea fowls that have a swe swe pattern on them. This is literally what Mpanglele means – guinea fowl. And the blue swe swe is well known in traditional Xhosa clothing.