Soweto-born artist Mondli 'The Artivist' Kunene has scooped an honorary award in the Theatre and Arts category at this year’s Forty Under 40 Africa Awards.
The prestigious ceremony was held at the Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City in Accra, Ghana on Saturday, March 26.
The Forty under 40 Africa Awards recognise, honour and celebrate individuals under the age of 40 years who are doing exceptional work in the continent using their specific skills to inspire change.
These individuals are identified among the continent's most influential and accomplished young business leaders of our time.
Commenting on his big win, Kunene says: “I feel that it is time that we tell our own stories, and we tell them authentically, and that’s what ‘ve been doing with my artworks.
“Ghana has caught up, South Africa needs to wake up and do the same but also if you look at our legends who have passed on, they were celebrated and recognised overseas rather than here at home, so it’s a bitter-sweet moment for me.
He adds: “I'm very happy to be honoured in Ghana and this shows how much work still needs to be done.”
Kunene says his work is not only about art aesthetics but also about creating narratives that encourage dialogue while raising awareness about the social ills in South Africa and the rest of the continent.
His artwork features a combination of recycled materials coupled with socio-political commentary.
“I use my original art to tell thought-provoking stories that raise awareness about social contentious issues within the African diaspora and how those issues resonate with the rest of the world.”
Kunene was chosen by South Africa’s esteemed design institution, Design Indaba, as a Visual Artist to look out for in 2019.
He was commissioned by the Department of Arts and Culture to paint huge murals in Sharpeville for the Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu centennial celebrations, and the 50th anniversary of the existence of the old Sharpeville community hall which was used during the apartheid era for recreational purposes.
He has exhibited locally and overseas, including the New York exhibition organised by the Black Lives Matter movement, and was invited to exhibit in India to raise awareness about issues faced by African tourism, poaching of elephants, and rhinos.
Some of Kunene’s artistic influences include his mentor, contemporary sculptor and artist, Speelman Mahlangu, world-renowned artist Dr Esther Mahlangu, and legendary painter, sculptor and theorist Leonardo Da Vinci.
Follow Kunene on Instagram to view some of his works.