Being an identical twin myself, “Emweka,” explores a particular aspect in the life of twins, within the context of the Xhosa cultural and traditional belief systems, where twins have to observe a specific ritual in which they have to throw silver coins into the sea to appease their ancestors before they can bath or swim.
Before colonisation was brought to the South African shores, the concept of money was foreign among the traditional Xhosa people. Xhosa people bartered crops, animals, land and some forms of beads. The introduction of money totally changed traditional people’s systems of production, distribution and exchange as these became principally characterised by money as a primary means of exchange of which Africans did not have. Thus, money cost most traditional societies all over the world their land, animal and agricultural stock, but it also forced them into labour for their colonisers. “Emweka” means white, and in this context it refers to silver coins as “white” (imali. Emhlophe). The term “Mhlophe” or “white” is also used in reference to “white people”, (abantu abamhlophe).
In relation to the heated calls for decolonization in South Africa, people have been stating that we should rid ourselves of Eurocentric or Colonial value systems. In my work, the Xhosa requirement for twins to throw money into the sea could be read as an active participation to decolonization, where one of the most colonial valuables is rendered useless and is thrown back to where white people came from (the sea). Money is a social construct, it exists not in objective reality, but its existence is as a result of humans agreeing to that it does. My work is interested in how societies create and project traditions that in many ways affect and determine how some people interact and live with other people within contexts where these creations are esteemed in very peculiar ways.