This week our team caught up with Mondli Kunene, an 'Artivist' who believes everything that masses around the world and South Africa know and everything they have no knowledge about, is directly and indirectly linked to his MONDLIART® piece titled '#NithiUbaniOcaptured'
I was born in Mndeni, Soweto, and then we moved later on to Vaal whereby I attended primary schools at Ekujuleni in Zone 3, De Deur Laerskool and General Smuts High school and this was when we were already staying in Daleside, Randvaal. I studied to become an Educator at University of Johannesburg (Kingsway Campus).
What were the challenges and great things about growing up?
Challenges for me were adapting from an all Black vernacular medium of instruction primary school to an Afrikaans primary school whereby Afrikaans was the medium of instruction at the time and I had to repeat standard 3. Furthermore I grew up in a warm loving home that was later torn apart by Tradition from my Dad's side of Polygamy, when I was in the 11th grade, whereby already from the 9th grade I was working part time doing garden for my then Afrikaans Educator later turned colleague and first person in the world to invest in MONDLIART®, when I was in the 9th grade. I am the first of three boys, and my parents were stern when it comes to discipline within the household.
Before I had siblings, I had any toy you can imagine and so many of them that when my mom's friends' kids came through, I had separate plastic bags filled with all kinds of toys, I have always been territorial about my belongings and I felt that I should rather be their sustainer and let them play with the less important toys that I owned.
Due to being short in physical stature, I have learnt quickly to defend myself in the streets and I built an iron wall that no one would dare jump, if they did, there would always be dire consequences for them, that made me develop a hit temperament which later become a problem but due to.my strong spiritual and faith background, all thanks to my mom, I have grown to manage it all.
I somewhat grew up quick, my innocence and childhood flashed through my eyes from the 9th grade until today, due to having being expected to lead by example to your siblings and also taking care of my mother while studying at UJ simultaneously working at my old High school and my youngest brother was in créche at the time, younger brother was in high school about to proceed to his 12th grade. I learnt at an early age to juggle and multitask and sacrifice in order for certain good things to occur in my household.
Your career? What is it that you do? What inspired you to do what you do? (You can talk about your job or business here) Details please.
I am an Educator, an Artivist (a term I coined). I taught in the very same high school I attended for ten years, 4 years as an H.R assistant (dealing with disciplinary issues of both learners and Educators) then I taught for 6 years.
Art has been my God given talent; I have no formal or informal Art training, although I do have the skills and knowledge of how to educate others on how they can harness their Artistic talent as highly skilled painters.
In the world, we have Visual Artists, and with internet access, alot of people have also embarked on a crusade of being "Artistic and Woke", creating portraits and painting using numbers and guidance from YouTube videos, and that is WHY I would NEVER consider myself as a Visual Artist, BUT rather an ARTIVIST, Henceforth MONDLI THE ARTIVIST KUNENE. I am an ARTIVIST because firstly, a MONDLIART® piece is original, from the content and context portrayed to how it was created, meaning, I don't create "beautiful" art, because already Art is beauty, so rather I create content that is thought-provoking and addresses social contentious issues within South Africa and the whole world. Furthermore, when I create MONDLIART® pieces, I NEVER start first with a pencil or any form of guideline drawing that will be used as a guide to create a "perfectly proportion" painting, I KNOW exactly what I want to portray and I execute it with cut throat precision with a mixture of flare, as I always listen to strictly the following Artists when I am creating MONDLIART®: Dr. Dre, Kanye West, Busta Rhymes, Lloyd Banks, ColdPlay, PushaT, Nas, The Game and Jayz and our very own Kwesta's song titled Spirit.
An ARTIVIST, is sensitive to all domains of life and around the world, He/ She is not only self aware but is also aware about everything that is happening around the world, equipped with rich factual World History. The relevancy of the Artworks created by an ARTIVIST has longevity prolonged by FACTS within the artwork, which can be known or unknown to the eye of the beholder of that artwork, for example, I created a MONDLIART® piece titled #NithiUbaniOcaptured mid-2017 and everything that masses around the world and S.A know and everything they have no knowledge about, is directly and indirectly linked to that MONDLIART® piece, which has almost appeared on national news but was later deemed as a threat to the ANC's unity at the time of the interview conducted by then ANN7 TV news. I created #NithiUbaniOcaptured to raise awareness about what is REALLY going on in the country and world, for the TRUTH will set us free from false pretentious leaders, lies, propaganda and mental slavery that our people are still living under, thinking we are free whereas we are POLITICALLY FREE and not FINANCIALLY FREE.
#NithiUbaniOcaptured is a national gem like the Mona Lisa is to Italy even though it is housed in France. The basis of our South African History should be based on the TRUTHS I have brought forward for the masses to engage about instead of forever being taught about European and American history, I believe it is time we told OUR stories in our own authentic way and I am doing exactly THAT, one MONDLIART® piece at a time.
What do you like most about yourself and the work that you do?
I am created a free thinker, never folllowed guidelines, but I learned the rules of the game and I bent those rules for my benefit and for others who are agreeing with my vision but are afraid to voice themselves out using their talents.
I am assertive, but yet I have a very sensitive mind and I am in.touch with my emotions alot. The "work" that I do, flows through my veins and arteries and I understand what my purpose is in this world, I know why things happened and are happening the way that they are, I am aware also that I am God sent to break chains of ignorance and other social barriers using MONDLIART®, for most if not all these other Visual Artists are vain.
I love that I can create a MONDLIART® piece and get strangers to engage about it with me and each other and learn from the MONDLIART® piece and from each other too, leading to new friendships and preconceived notions that might have been wrong, destroyed and having to gain new knowledge, and ALL OF THAT CREATED WITH A MERE PAINT BRUSH AND PAINT AND A BOARD, MONDLI THE ARTIVIST's HAND AND MIND AND HEART.
What are some of the challenges which you’ve faced and how did you overcome them?
Art is expensive, and I have created means of creating high quality thought-provoking paintings using simple materials no longer used by people, and I take those things and create MONDLIART® pieces which will make an impact on people of all ages and Race, gender etc.
There are people who COULD have helped me but they didn't want to, fearing what I am destined to be, fearing the power I willed with every MONDLIART® piece I create and how they will affect by having an effect on people.
There are people who have the means to acquire a MONDLIART® piece but would rather spend their money on alcohol or lure younger vulnerable Females to take advantage of them, and also there are those that have the means to.acquire and do acquire MONDLIART® and I am grateful for that, then there are those that believe Art is for the Elite and people with high prestige, so I have come up with a strategy to also reach to those people, by creating A4 sized black inkpen drawings for R 500, that way, they too will hang a MONDLIART® piece and feel included too amongst those that appreciate MONDLIART®. Lastly, an unsupportive Headmaster who only focuses on sports, I decided to create an Art club for my learners, they are composed of Visual Artists, Singers, Dancers, Poets.
What are some of your life highlights for you so far? What are you most proud of?
In 2016, I was the only Visual Artist cordially invited to exhibit Art at the 20th Anniversary of signing South African Democratic Constitution in Sharpeville, and the SABC 2 Morning Live interview link is below:
I was on ANN7 news for a MONDLIART® piece that is yet still to remove the blind fold from the eyes of the masses. I have taught and inspired kids in the same high school I.attended, worked with incredible Educators that played a role in.my life.
MONDLIART® are mostly invested in by people of high stature in society, from Doctors, Attorneys, Businessmen and Businesswoman alike, including Politicians, like Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Emfuleni Local Municipality Mayor Mr. Jacob L. Khawe to mention but a few.
What, in your opinion, are the most important factors to keep in mind to make it in your career or life in general?
Humility, Assertiveness, Faith, nurturing friendships and acquaintances that are FRUITFUL, being grateful for everything one has and doesn't have, not be gullible and naïve, research for yourself on issues that interest you, master your craft so much that you can delve into other spheres within your particular craft, lastly, assist the younger generations inspired by you with the KNOWLEDGE and SKILLS so that THEY too can learn from you and continue the legacy you have created and passed on to them.
Where would you like to see yourself in the next three years?
MONDLIART® pieces all over the country, most especially on the Social Sciences textbooks from 8th & 9th grade textbooks. MONDLIART® as a brand, having being featured on T.V and also venturing into Art markets overseas, so that I can have my own Art School in Vaal later on in my life.
If there was anything you could do differently, what would it be?
Using Wi-Fi more wisely than I have used it. Internet is a powerful tool, and if harnessed well, it can be magical.
Are there any specific people or organisations that you look up to and draw inspiration from and why?
Earlier on, I mentioned the Artists I listen to when creating MONDLIART® pieces, those are the people I am inspired by, more especially Kanye West, Dr. Dre and Nas. They come from nothing and today they are inspiring all aspects of pop culture, whether its music, entertainment, Arts, design, social cohesion and breaking down social Barriers that have been there for a long time, they are free thinkers and are not afraid to engage anything that most people are afraid of, they go against the grain and have always been innovative thinkers, envelope pushers, game changers, history re-writers and I am inspired by them.
Are there any inspiring projects which you’re involved in?
I am about to partner up with Rand Water and Department of Arts ad Culture and Dept. Of Education too but I cannot delve much on that as yet, but it is an exciting experience that I feel will be beneficial to youth and especially the younger generations in South Africa.
Other than that, I am creating MONDLIART® pieces for local municipalities, whereby I am communicating History that took place in respective municipalities, for I believe, that its important for the masses to know and understand what transpired within their regions etc, example Vaal region has rich history and has contributed alot to South African History although it is NOT acknowledged and placed where it should be, henceforth again, with one MONDLIART® piece at a time, I will put it on the map.
Lastly, what advice would you give to others out there looking to follow in your footsteps?
NEVER follow MY steps, you have your own race to run, own battles to face and fight. Run your own race at your OWN PACE AND NEVER FORGET TO TAKE BREAKS AND APPRECIATE THE DISTANCE YOU HAVE ALREADY RAN, NEVER THINK LIKE OTHERS, FIND YOUR VOICE AND STAND OUT!
How can the public contact you?
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Facebook: @Hang a Mondli On Your Wall