Lifeblood: Ibomvu (orange clay) offers protection from the sun in Zululand & Gerhard works as a car guard in the blazing sun. South Beach, Durban.

Exposure to harmful UV radiation from the sun is an issue that we all face, regardless of skin colour, background, cultural heritage or profession.  With gathering momentum around global warming and damage to the Earth’s Ozone Layer, this exposure is only set to worsen, making protection from the sun’s rays a critical requirement.

The application of Ibomvu, the orange clay or soil paste used as an inexpensive sunscreen to protect one’s face and arms from the harsh sun, is a common practice amongst field workers in Zululand.

The red-head gene is naturally occurring – with specific mutations to the MC1R gene making the subject more susceptible to the harmful effects of the sun and greater risk of cancer – Generally, red-heads have fairer skin and require additional protection.  However, this does not preclude a person of colour from sunburn and skin cancer.