From Arts to Democracy

 The use of arts as a form of resistance during apartheid in South Africa.

Gerald Sekoto

Gerald Sekoto and his art work:

Painter, music composer and humanist, Gerald Sekoto left a will in which he stated that his art work should be used to uplift education in South Africa .

Sekoto's work today remains an important part of the South African heritage. A trustee in the Gerald Sekoto foundation Barabara Lindop, describes his art work as part of the formation of the identity of South African people.

"The paintings are essential for our heritage, they are essential in understanding who we are and where we are now, as compared to where we came from," says Lindop.

Sekoto’s work described the lives of black people during apartheid and their struggles under the regime.

Lindop says the notion of Ubuntu is evident in Sekoto's work. She says Sekoto’s paintings spoke about the humanity in black people that was denied by the white apartheid regime. Many times black people were portrayed as violent, thieves and uncivilised.

Sekoto was never hesitant to be controversial in his work. This is evident in his painting known as the "Mine Boy"  where he paints a book by that title that was banned by the oppressive government. He paints the book on top of a wooden chair.

Mine Boy was published in 1946 but was banned by the oppressive government within six weeks of being published. The government saw the book as dangerous as it revealed the oppression done by the system.

Lindop says the "Mind Boy" painting was a highly political painting and she describes the book which it depicts as extraordinary.

Lindop describes how black artists were side-lined during Apartheid which made it difficult for many people to recognize their work.

Lindop elaborates that art should be part of teaching and learning in South Africa as it widens imagination. She says maths and science are seen as the most important courses, but argues that art is part of maths and science.

She believes that schools should teach arts as part of their curriculum, so as to assist students not only to understand art but to know their heritage.

By Zusipe Batyi