Arts + Culture

Dreams Close To Home: The RVCA South Africa Painting Tour

Interview + photos from the Dreams Close to Home RVCA South Africa painting tour.

All Images by Karabo Mooki.

Backed by RVCA, creatives Lisolomzi Pikoli (Mr Fuzzy Slipperz), Skumbuzo “Skuba” Vabaza (Skubalisto), and photographer Karabo Mooki (Mooki Mooks) decided to prepare a countrywide mural tour, painting and documenting at each stop as they travelled through Jeffrey’s Bay, Port Elizabeth, Grahamstown, the Transkei and finally Johannesburg. The result is a range of breathtaking pieces of art the guys hope will ignite new appreciation for the “hills, seas, forests, small towns and big cities” of South Africa. We chatted to Skubalisto and Fuzzy to get a feel for their involvement in this creative collaboration, their feeling for community, and exploring the beautiful places that can be found closer to home than we think.

Skumbuzo "Skuba" Vabaza.

Shiba for OKA: Right here in Cape Town, you and a couple of guys did a mural for 100in1Day a few months back, which is probably the first outdoor mural most have seen you put together publicly. Can you tell us a bit about that to start?

Skuba: The piece we did on the 100and1day initiative was a matter of perfect timing. I ran into Chris Auret at AfrikaBurn, after months of online talk about collaborating when we were in the same country at the same time (we both live fairly nomadic lives). We agreed to meet up at Trenchtown, in Observatory to talk concepts and the location of our first mural. Chris also filled me in on the 100and1 initiative and how we could incorporate our mural to the initiative. To maximize diversity of style within our concept, we invited artists Martin Lund and Garth Waverly to paint with us. Our vision and aim with this piece was to express our artistic voice and style but stay true to the building blocks of muralism.

OKA: What are these building blocks, and how do you contend with the bad rap that street artists & muralists often get? The general public people often looks down on the culture as just another mess on a wall, but now you’re travelling across an entire country to do this.

S: Communicating with the community within, whether they agree or disagree, what is most important is that the piece evokes some form of emotion. These days artists are so focused on style and the technical approach of creating, that they forget that by painting in a public space, they are opening a dialogue with the community they are painting in. Once it is complete, the piece no longer belongs to the artist but to the community that sees it everyday. It falls mercy to the youth that decide whether or not to tag, bomb or piece over it. So saying something that the people can relate to and understand also contributes to the lasting power of ever so temporary mural art.

OKA: And this great adventure, how did it come together?

Fuzzy: Before the road trip I'd seen Skuba once in Cape town since his return from San Francisco after he'd been gone for almost six years! I guess the timing was good because we're at similar stages in our lives and careers. To tell the truth, I’ve been lucky enough to grow up around and meet really inspiring friends and family who when speaking about things they are passionate about they have full intentions of following through with their point of interest. This trip with Mooki and Skuba was just like that, all three of us have a great passion for travel and art but what was an even more alluring factor was that we could fulfill ourselves artistically and existentially through public art and service.

The idea of not having to buy an expensive ticket and fill out crazy VISA forms because we wanna find out what’s cooking in our backyard was great! South Africans don't travel enough in general whether foreign or domestic so I feel this exhibition also seeks to bridge that gap for the South African audience. There is so much to learn about ourselves through learning about our different cultures, heritage and landscape and this was a good way to delve into the above mentioned. Everywhere we went we had incredible hosts whether it was my fam, Skubas fam or a backpackers (The Wild Labanzi in Transkei) we were in good company and got to enjoy our time there. It was a crazy trip filled with fun, paint, beer, cops, family, new friends, beats, petrol issues, early mornings and long nights! Just how an incredible road trip with the goon squad is supposed to be.

Look out for the September 6th "Dreams Close to Home" group exhibition at the Velo Art Cafe in Joburg. The event will fully showcase Mooki’s documentation of the entire journey, with t-shirts, books and RVCA merchandise to boot. In the meantime, check out images taken on tour below.

Cape Town

Jeffrey’s Bay

Port Elizabeth


Transkei (featuring Danielle West)

Johannesburg (featuring Kasi 1)

Image courtesy of Lula Ali Ismaïl

'Dhalinyaro' Is the Female Coming-of-Age Story Bringing Djibouti's Film Industry to Life

The must-watch film, from Lula Ali Ismaïl, paints a novel picture of Djibouti's capital city through the story of three friends.

If you're having a tough time recalling the last movie you watched from Djibouti, it's likely because you have never watched one before. With an almost non-existent film industry in the country, Lula Ali Ismaïl, tells a beautiful coming of age story of three young female Djiboutian teenagers at the cusp of womanhood. Dhalinyaro offers a never-before-seen view of Djibouti City as a stunning, dynamic city that blends modernity and tradition—a city in which the youth, like all youth everywhere, struggle to decide what their futures will look like. It's a beautiful story of friendship, family, dreams and love from a female filmmaker who wants to tell a "universal story of youth," but set in the country she loves—Djibouti.

The story revolves around the lives of three young friends from different socio-economic backgrounds, with completely varied attitudes towards life, but bound by a deep friendship. There is Asma, the conservative academic genius who dreams of going to medical school and hails from a modest family. Hibo, a rebellious, liberal, spoiled girl from a very wealthy family who learns to be a better friend as the film evolves and finally Deka. Deka is the binding force in the friendship, a brilliant though sometimes naïve teen who finds herself torn between her divorced mother's ambitions to give her a better life having saved up all her life for her to go to university abroad, and her own conviction that she wants to study and succeed in her own country.

Okayafrica contributor, Ciku Kimeria speaks to Ismaïl on her groundbreaking film, her hopes for the filmmaking industry and the universality of stories. Read on for the conversation, and stream Dhalinyaro here.

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Image courtesy of Adekunle Adeleke

Spotlight: Adekunle Adeleke Creates Digital Surrealist Paintings That Celebrate African Beauty

Get familiar with the work of Nigerian visual artist Adekunle Adeleke.

In our 'Spotlight' series, we highlight the work of photographers, visual artists, multimedia artists and more who are producing vibrant, original work. In our latest piece, we spotlight Adekunle Adeleke, a Nigerian visual artist, using digital mediums to paint dream-like portraits of Africans. Read more about the inspirations behind his work below, and check out some of his stunning paintings underneath. Be sure to keep up with the artist on Instagram and Facebook.

Can you tell us more about your background and when you first started painting?

I am a self taught artist. I started drawing from when I was really young. I mostly used graphite pencils and paper. But about six years ago, I think it was 2014, I wanted to start getting into color. I was a university student at the time and I lived in a hostel with three other people, so I couldn't go traditional so [instead], I started making paintings digitally, first on my iPad and then on my laptop with a Wacom. I have been painting ever since.

What would you say are the central themes in your work?

I personally think my work celebrates beauty (African beauty to be precise) and occasionally absurd things. I really just want to make paintings that are beautiful.

How do you decide who or what you're going to paint?
I do not have an exact process. I do use a lot of references though. Sometimes, I had an idea of how exactly the painting would look, others I just make it up as i go along.

Can you talk about a particular moment or turning point in your life that made you want to pursue art or a creative path?

I am not sure–I did not actively pursue art in a sense. I was just doing it because it was fun and I wanted to. Then people all of a sudden wanted to put me on projects and offer to pay for my hobby. I have thankfully been able to make art and also work in a separate field—which I also enjoy–by day.

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Justice Mukheli. Courtesy of Black Major/Bongeziwe Mabandla.

Interview: Bongeziwe Mabandla's New Album Is a Calm Meditation On Relationships

We speak with the South African artist about his captivating new album, iimini, love cycles, and the unexpected influence of Bon Iver.

"I've been playing at home for so many years and pretending to be having shows in my living room, and today it's actually happening," Bongeziwe Mabandla says, smiling out at me from my cellphone as I watch him play songs on Instagram Live, guitar close to his chest.

Two weekends ago, Mabandla was meant to be celebrating the release of his third album, iimini, at the Untitled Basement in Braamfontein in Joburg, which would no doubt have been packed with some of the many fans the musician has made since his debut release, Umlilo, in 2012. With South Africa joining many other parts of the world in a lockdown, those dates were cancelled and Mabandla, like many other artists, took to social media to still play some tracks from the album. The songs on iimini are about the life and death of a relationship—songs that are finding their way into the hearts of fans around the world, some of whom, now stuck in isolation, may be having to confront the ups and downs of love, with nowhere to hide.

The day before his Instagram Live mini-show, Mabandla spoke to OkayAfrica on lockdown from his home in Newtown about the lessons he's learned from making the album, his new-found love for Bon Iver, and how he's going to be spending his time over the next few weeks.

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Lueking Photos. Courtesy of emPawa Africa.

Interview: GuiltyBeatz Proves He's Truly 'Different'

The Ghanaian producer talks to us about his debut EP, Different, the massive success of "Akwaaba," producing for Beyoncé and more.

GuiltyBeatz isn't a new name in the Ghanaian music scene. A casual music fan's first introduction to him would've likely been years ago on "Sample You," one of Mr Eazi's early breakout hits. However, he had scored his first major hit two years before that, in the Nigerian music space on Jesse Jagz' and Wizkid's 2013 hit "Bad Girl." In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists.

In the years to come, the producer has gone on to craft productions for some of Ghana's most talented artists, having worked with the likes of Efya, Pappy Kojo, Sarkodie, R2Bees, Stonebwoy, Bisa Kdei, Wande Coal, Moelogo and many more over the last decade. The biggest break of the talented producer's career, however, came with the arrival of his own single "Akwaaba".

In 2018, GuiltyBeatz shared "Akwaaba" under Mr Eazi's Banku Music imprint, shortly afterwards the song and its accompanying dance went viral. The track and dance graced party floors, music & dance videos, and even church auditoriums all around the world, instantly making him one of Africa's most influential producers. Awards, nominations, and festival bookings followed the huge success of "Akwaaba." Then, exactly a year later, the biggest highlight of his career so far would arrive: three production credits on Beyoncé's album The Lion King: The Gift.

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