Baba Tjeko, a multidisciplinary artist from the Free State, bases his work on the concept of marginalisation and the great potential that lies within people who are voiceless.
Upon writing his final paper for a Advertising Design diploma, Baba discovered that Basotho mural art is a disappearing art form due to urbanisation and a lack of interest from the younger generation, which is when he decided to do his part to preserve its history.
As someone who is familiar with both the short and long term effects of colonialism and apartheid, Baba seeks to spread the message that says marginalised people with no voice are part of society and they are valuable. Using beautiful geometric patterns and colour, Baba highlights the potential of the sad and worried faces in his work.
Here are five of his top illustrations.
MOKOROTLO (Basotho Hat)
Mokorotlo is a traditional Basotho hat that is manufactured from the indigenous grass, “mosea”. It is a national symbol in Lesotho and a Basotho symbol of pride. For me, the hat is a symbol of royalty and I seek to position it in a way that brings pride to not only Basotho people but Africans in general.
MME MOTSWADI (Mother/Parent)
I used bold lines to express the strength of a mother yet balance the quality with gentleness expressed through the baby sleeping comfortably on her back.
This piece pays homage to an extraordinary woman whose efforts in the struggle are not always recognised. Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe was a wife to the political leader activist, Robert Sobukwe. My aim was to celebrate her contribution to being the rock behind the well known Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe. Not only that, but the fact that she was an activist in her own right.
Black Coffee is undeniably one of the greatest artistic and musical geniuses on the African continent. This work celebrates Black Coffee as an ordinary boy from a humble background who made it big internationally. He is a symbol of possibilities and dreams becoming true.
MMATISETSO (She Who Endures)
For me, a triumph of the human spirit is best expressed through strong African women. This piece showcases the grace in which they handle and go through adversity.