Sanele Manqele Director at Art Eye Gallery
Both Sanele Manqele’s grannies were given the first name “Gertrude”. She keeps both gogo Gertrudes close to her heart … and her skin, wearing items that were theirs as part of her everyday wardrobe. Sanele pulls on her paternal granny Gertrude Gugulethu’s jersey, which was given to her after she wed this year. This gran is in her 90s and lives in KwaZuluNatal.
“I’ve always loved her collection of jerseys and I just love this one that she’s given me. It’s vintage, it’s oversized and it goes with everything,” Sanele says.
Pulling the jersey over her shoulders connects her to this ageing granny who lives far away.
In the same way she invokes Gertrude Minnie — the granny who died when Sanele was about 10 years old — in a bright red felt hat that was hers.
As Sanele balances the hat on her head she’s flooded with memories of the granny who insisted on being called “Granny Mam”.
“She was very proper, very ladylike and, like my grandfather, she was a teacher.
“I never used to wear her hat, but lately I’ve started to,” says Sanele.
“I always felt that I didn’t really look like anyone in my family and recently a young boy saw a picture of this granny and thought it was a photo of me,” she says.
The hat clearly fits — it’s why she’s wearing it.