South African photographer Daniel Naudé examines the relationship that cattles have in societies in Uganda and Madagascar. Current Exhibition at the Stevenson Gallery, Cape Town, 10 April -24 May 2014. The gallery is open from Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturday 10am to 1pm
For the past two years Naudé has focused on photographing cattle in societies where these animals are revered and venerated. This is a position far removed from the Western world where they are mostly seen as productive sources of milk, meat and skins. Naudé first photographed the Ankole cattle in Uganda, renowned for their majestic horns which ideally curve out and then inward, forming a shape like a lyre. In the days before Christianity arrived in this part of Africa, the Bahima people made offerings of milk to herdsman gods, and their language has many names for cattle that describe their characteristics. Even now, the keepers of these animals live pastoral lives, their culture deeply rooted in these cattle. The survival of the Ankole is at the heart of cultural and economic debates about indigenous African values and symbolism versus a Western emphasis on commercial concerns.
In Madagascar, the distinctive Zebu cattle form part of the Bara people’s cosmology and ancestor worship. There are distinctive Zebu selected for sacrificial purposes, such as those with a black head and white diamond shape on the forehead. In these societies, on the day of the death of a cattle owner, all his cattle are slaughtered and the skulls are placed on his tomb, along with funeral posts decorated with motifs describing the person’s life.