World Elephant Day: Meet Samson Kambalu’s Elephant Chiefs

On World Elephant Day, we take a closer look at the huge elephants in Samson Kambalu’s exhibition New Liberia, and the symbolism of the elephant mask in Malawian Nyau tradition.

As you enter New Liberia, you are greeted by two Nyau elephant chiefs. Nyau is the secret society of the Chewa people that populate Malawi. Swipe to see an elephant (called Njovu in Chewa) mask at a Nyau ceremony in Lilongwe, Malawi in the 1960s. Each of the elephant’s legs is wide enough for one dancer, and this is how the four dancers animate the mask through the dance.

Read more about the Nyau tradition and the symbolism of Kambalu’s exhibition on the blog below.