There is one man that I and many others were denied the right to know, and whose picture we were not permitted to see, not to mention simply talking about him or his name for which you would even be killed before 1994. There is a man I shouted about and chanted his name without even knowing him personally, nor even saw a picture of what his face looked like for more than 20 years.
But through all that, I have learned a great great deal about and from Tata Nelson Rholihlahla Mandela’s life: Struggle, Sacrifice, Selflessness, Outstanding love; Forgiveness and Endless Passion to serve and make a difference in everyone’s lives, and especially the children’s.
I also learned from him that one finds great pleasure, strength, wisdom and greatness mostly when you don’t live your life for yourself but for others.
I have learned from him that if you truly love and believe in something good that is worth it, and I mean something that is worth dying for, just go for it with much focus, peacefully, with passion, love , perseverance and faith, no matter how long it may take to achieve victory.
Having to grow up without a father like many of my fellow South African brothers and sisters, I am sure that he has not only taught me and reminded me that, regardless of the fact that I did not get the chance to know my Dad, I should make sure that I love and take care not of only my own children but of all the Children, ergardless of race, creed or colour.
He gave one touching, humble, sweet, genuine, loving and unforgettable smile; it was the kind you would definitely hold and carry for as long as you live. I would actually say he had one exceptional smile, and most of my friends who had the opportunity to shake his hand didn’t wash their hands for days after that.
I also learned from Tata Madiba that material things such as money and glory are nothing but worthless wealth and pride.
I was introduced to the arts through music in 1993, where the Gauteng Music Academy was opened in our township of Daveyton, by Dr Johnny Mababa Moekoa. He is a world acclaimed trumpeter who studied in the Indiana University in the US. It was PWV Music Academy then, and now called Gauteng Music Academy, where I started studying practical music and theory, learning and playing bass and acoustic bass. We did classical and jazz, and I studied music till Grade 4 which I passed with the Royal Schools of Music in 1997. I played double bass in some big band jazz pieces and performed at the Market Theatre Main theatre, playing Lil Darling, featuring well known SA acoustic guitarist Dr Bheki Khoza.
I left the Gauteng Music Academy in 1998 and went to join the Sibikwa Theatre and Community Art Centre. I played and performed with the Sibikwa Jazz Band and with the Sibikwa Play called UHAMBO, meaning The Journey, where we musicians were at the back of stage playing live sound effects and music at specific scenes of the play. In 1999 I left Sibikwa and enrolled in Art and Graphic Design at Benoni Technical College, where I studied and passed my N4 Intro, N4, N5, N6 in 2000.
I started teaching visual skills and art to kids and youth in 2002, after completing my N6 in Art and Graphic Design at Benoni Technical College, now called Ekurhuleni East College Benoni Campus. Together with the Late Ms Angelinah Pelesane Dhlamini who was very good in textiles and fabric design, I initiated the Zakhe Art Foundation in Wattville, our township in Benoni. The reason we initiated ZAF was that the were no art development projects or programmes for kids or youth and most of us had a problem when we had to present a portfolio to be accepted at a college or university to pursue visual arts. We wanted to bridge that gap through the ZAF visual art class programmes and also ensure that art is continuously learned and practiced in our townships.
We ran Saturday visual art and craft classes for kids and youth between ages 7 to 18, where our programs developed our learners in basics like drawing, form and colour, space and volume. Then we would take each learner step by step as with his or her development abilities. Mostly we operate out of our own pockets and with assistance form friends, and this also affects the intake of more learners due to lack of material, space and funds, but we are still doing what we can with what we have.
ZAF have success stories like just last year when one of our former art learners, Mr Mongezi Zanemvula Ncapayi, won the Gerald Sekoto Award in 2013 ABSA Latier Arts Competition. In 2008 he one was one of the finalists in the 2008 Ekurhuleni Mayoral Awards for organizations and individuals who have contributed in the arts skill and knowledge development and job creation. Both Mongezi Ncapayi and Mr Frank Lekwana on of our former learners got bursaries through ZAF relationship with the former Head of the Art and Design Department Mrs Janine Du Toit. They both studied Art and Design from N4 Intro to N6, and both completed their N6 in Art and Graphic Design successfully.
In 2006,I was approached by the Ekurhuleni SRAC Springs Art Gallery, to be part of their newly initiated Ekurhuleni Art Development Schools, to teach run visual art classes at Mary Moodley Child and Youth Care Centre. The class has been running since 2006 till present, and I am still part of the teaching team.
I have been teaching or educating, mentoring and practicing visual arts for more than 10 years now. I am planning to go for a Visual Arts Degree with UNISA in 2015. Finally, art and working with kids and the youth is nothing else but my life. Thanks.
Description of Zakhe Art Foundation
The word “Zakhe” means to build or develop yourself; ZAF is an NGO initiated in 2002 and registered in 2004 with the South African Department of Social Development as a registered SA NGO. It was initiated by both the late Mss Angelinah Pelesane Dhlamini who was a Texile and Graphic Artist and graduate, and Mr Linda Colin Makhaza Mashiya, a Visual and Graphic Artist both from Daveyton, Benoni, SA.
ZAF was initiated to develop and nurture our township’s kids and youths’ visual and art skills and talent. We want to help our learners: grow in visual arts and craft skills, create their art portfolio, mentor them even after they have graduated to Higher Art Institutions, and see them making it in life as visual artists; get bursaries to go and further their art studies locally and abroad; be part of arts and cultural exchange programmes.
ZAF runs visual art and craft classes every Saturday and on holidays for our learners, where they learn and develop visual art, and are then taken step by step through development in each and every element, starting with line. Then we take them to drawing basics, painting basics, we do design elements and design with them. We organize exhibitions for our learners when we have funds, and also look for art competitions and art fairs where they can show case and grow as young upcoming artists. When they have developed satisfactorily, we try to find and connect them with institutions that would help them with bursaries and funds to further the art studies at universities and colleges locally and abroad.
To provide continuous and sustainable services in visual art, craft and graphic design skills and knowledge to our local township and for rural kids and youth in South Africa and where needed. To be affordable, appropriate, and of high quality and standard. To focus on the continuous regeneration of the Spirit of Ubuntu and the importance of embracing and nurturing our art, culture, and talents.
To run continuous visual art classes, exhibitions, workshops, to educate, promote and develop our art learners in their visual art, craft and graphic skills and talent, until they are social and economically independent, and until they are socially and economically active, viable and free.
ZAF operates from 2579 Kubu Place, Chief A Luthuli Park, Ext 4, Phase 3, Benoni, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng Province, South Africa, 1520. It is currently run and managed by Mr Linda Colin Mashiya as its Chairperson and Visual Art Tutor, Mr Frank Lekwane as its craft teacher and secretary, Ms Mbali Mabhoko as its treasure, Ms Shirley Molefe as its marketing officer, and Thuli Malemela as an additional member.
ZAF staff still manages and runs art classes under very challenging circumstances as funds are very hard to find throughout the world, and yes many NGOs are struggling, but we are doing what we love with what we can. Thanks.