An exhibition by IRTQA is the first of its kind at the Constitutional Hill, showcasing the identity of the ‘headscarf’ for women in South Africa.

COMMEMORATING FREEDOM: A variety of artwork by different women from the Muslim community. Photo: Nokuthula Zwane
COMMEMORATING FREEDOM: A variety of artwork by different women from the Muslim community. Photo: Nokuthula Zwane

Unveiling the Hijabi is the name given to a groundbreaking exhibition currently on at Johannesburg’s Constitution Hill.

The exhibition brings together the work of poets Quraisha Dawood, Saaleha Idrees Bhamjee, Tariq Toffa and Adeela Kasoojee with the fine art of Nadia Cassim, Aziezah Essop and Gulshan Hoosen.

Unveiling the Hijabi: A painting by Nadia Cassim, on display on Freedom day at Constitutional Hill. Photo: Nokuthula Zwane
Unveiling the Hijabi: A painting by Nadia Cassim, on display on Freedom day at Constitutional Hill. Photo: Nokuthula Zwane

The exhibition emphasises the freedom that the headscarf represents to the women who wear them.

Aziezah Essop, also one of the curators of some of the artwork on display said, “My references to the headscarf in three of my paintings represent women of all cultures… The head scarf has taken on a negative connotation and I hope to change that perception.”

“I think we have an amazing Muslim community, especially here in Durban where I don’t feel marginalised if I wear a scarf,” said Dawood.

Poet Saaleha Idrees Bamjee said, “South Africa is one of the best places to live and practice as a Muslim woman. The constitution protects our personal freedom. While there is much to do in terms of dismantling the patriarchy inherent in our communities.”

VOICE OF THE HEADSCARF: The Unveiling Hijabi, exhibition that is showcased at the Constitutional Hill during Freedom month. Photo: Nokuthula Zwane
VOICE OF THE HEADSCARF: The Unveiling Hijabi, exhibition that is showcased at the Constitutional Hill during Freedom month. Photo: Nokuthula Zwane

These artists commemorate South African anti-apartheid activists and influential Muslim women like Fatima Meer and Malala Yousafzai.

Meer was a Muslim South African writer, academic, screenwriter, and prominent anti-apartheid activist. As a symbol of a traditional women, Meer wore the headscarf.

Dawood said, “She is a beacon for Muslim women – that our political voices can be heard and that it is our duty to express our indignation against oppression in an educated way.”

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THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON: Wits Vuvuzela

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