NAIROBI – Leaving home with no more than a motorcycle, a canvas, a paint, some brushes and 700 South African rands ($51.60), South African artist Reggie Khumalo has been on a voyage of self and social discovery.
Born in Johannesburg, 32-year-old Khumalo took to the road on his motorcycle in the summer of 2017, starting an adventure that saw him visit 10 countries in 20 weeks, from South Africa to Kenya, passing through Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania.
“During my trip, I suddenly came across ‘the Ubuntu.’ I was impressed; people welcomed me in their houses, gave me food and let me camp in their gardens,” the artist said in an exclusive interview with EFE.
The Bantu linguistic concept of Ubuntu, used in the South African Nguni language to mean “I am because we are” connotes a spiritual and sociological belief in a universal bond shared among all humans.
Throughout his travels Khumalo has crossed deserts, long highways and plains, explaining that the feeling of Ubuntu was what helped him survive with little income.
The South African painter is now on his second motorcycle journey that is to take him north beyond the Mediterranean to Europe, where he will exhibit his work in Amsterdam this summer.
The artist said he has learned much during his travels, both good and bad, encountering not only authentic Ubuntu but also, unfortunately, sexism and racism.
Khumalo underscored that all of his experiences have been displayed in his paintings because, “definitely art has a political role and can speak for the whole community.”
Art has a positive impact on society, said the South African, who has donated to various charitable projects in Africa.
On his first trip Khumalo he collaborated with the African Women Chartered Accountants, an NGO which seeks to increase education among young women in Africa.
In a few months, the artist is set to show his art in the capital of the Netherlands, the first time displaying his work to a European audience, yet Khumalo stressed that “I am not seeking Europe’s approval, only spreading the African message.”
Ubuntu is a concept connected with the popular process of “Africanization” in South Africa and was connected with Nelson Mandela’s call for direct majority rule in that country. Since the beginning of Mandela’s presidency in 1994, Ubuntu has become more widely used outside of South Africa.