National History Museum


Shiona Moodley has book published

15 October 2012

The book Koma: Expressions of cultural identity investigates a recurring spread-eagled motif found in Northern Sotho rock art in the Makgabeng Plateau, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Previous research has pointed out two categories of Northern Sotho rock art that have been painted in two different phases yet this motif occurs in both. It is found in association with the older boy’s initiation rock art and the more recent protest imagery painted during the Maleboho war of 1894.  The local inhabitants call this image koma.  By meticulously exploring the secret boy’s initiation rites of the Northern Sotho, this book discusses how, as a painted image, komaoperates on a level surpassing other initiation icons.  It embodies a symbolic perception that was also of great importance in the struggle of the Hananwa people during the war.  This book ultimately unveils the conceptual link between the two traditions of rock art and discusses how the koma is perceived in the construction and expression of a distinct cultural identity.

Koma: Expressions of cultural identity. The crocodile motif in the rock art of the Makgabeng Plateau, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Lambert Academic Publishing: Saarbrücken, Germany. ISBN: 978-3-8433-8205-2.   Available at