81-year-old Mahlangu received the 2016 Minister’s Award at the ceremony.
The world renowned Ndebele painter, who recently worked with R&B crooner John Legend, received the award for being a pioneer and an innovator. Mahlangu and the US singer collaborated on the #MakeADifference campaign, which seeks to raise money for and awareness about HIV/Aids.
The awards ceremony took place at the Sandton Convention Centre on Sunday.
“We salute Mam’ Esther who is truly a national treasure and an outstanding ambassador for South Africa’s rich cultural offerings,” Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom was quoted saying in a News24 article.
“The Lilizela Tourism Awards give us the opportunity to celebrate trailblazers such as Mam’ Esther, as well as service excellence in the South African tourism industry in general. Tonight is an opportunity to pause and thank these individuals and businesses for their contribution to putting South Africa firmly on the global stage by ensuring their product and service offerings are of the highest standard,” he said.
Some of Mahlangu’s recent work includes her partnership with BMW, which saw her using her decorative paintings on the BMW 7 series.
“To paint is in my heart and it’s in my blood. The way I paint was taught to me by my mother and my grandmother. The images and colours have changed and I have painted on many different surfaces and objects, but I still love to paint. The patterns I have used on the BMW parts marry tradition to the essence of BMW. When BMW sent me the panels to paint, I could see the design in my head and I just wanted to get started! I started by painting the small ones first to get the feel of the surface and then it was easy as the design follows the lines of the panels,” she said in a press statement in September.
Mahlangu added that art had given her the opportunity to travel the world.