Monday, February 23, 2009

Mutual Building, Cape Town

The Mutual Building, the former headquarters of the Old Mutual company in Cape Town, is a huge skyscraper in downtown Cape Town. Dating from 1939, it was designed by F M Glennie and Louw & Louw.

The building features many decorative features including elephants and baboons heads on the upper levels and an amazing frieze around the whole building just above street level showing the history of the colonisation of South Africa. The interior is also richly decorated.

Mutual Building, Cape TownToday though, I want to concentrate on the series of nine reliefs on the side of the building depicting the black tribal groups of southern Africa.

The carvings are exquisite and have been executed in great detail.

Each one is named although several are somewhat out of date.

If you want to know more about the peoples of southern Africa, particularily the black tribal groups, the South African Tourism website has an excellent write-up.

The tribal groups shown from left to right are :-

Xosa, Mutual Building, Cape Town

Pedi, Mutual Building, Cape Town

Masai, Mutual Building, Cape Town

Matabele, Mutual Building, Cape Town

Basuto, Mutual Building, Cape Town

Barotse, Mutual Building, Cape Town

Kikuyu, Mutual Building, Cape Town

Zulu, Mutual Building, Cape Town

Bushman, Mutual Building, Cape Town


  1. very very cool! thanks! where can I get info on the relief??

  2. The Mutual Heights Community website ( has a download that shows most of the relief.

    Also there is this site about Ivan Mitford-Barberton who was the sculptor for the decoration on what is now know as the Old Mutual Building.

  3. Great pix David - I have made a wikipedia page for the building and included a link to your blog. Andy.

  4. Thanks Andy. It is a very interesting building.

  5. Thank you so much this has helped me with my assignment!