Interview with Tsholo Motong

Interview with Tsholo Motong

Why did you choose art as your method of expression?

At first, I studied to be a fashion designer inspired by my grandmother, who was knitting blankets & jerseys and doing crotchet. When the fashion industry started to get saturated with cheap Chinese imports, I shifted to art as it involves elements similar to fashion.

Splash at an art fair

You mentioned that your grandmother is your main inspiration. Is your grandmother still around? What would you like to tell us about her story and influence on you?

She passed away together with my mum & dad so I have no parents left. My mum was also a seamstress, sewing curtains and bedding with hand embroidery.

I was mainly raised by women, as my dad only came back when I was in college.

What do you think Americans should know about South Africa? Maybe we, as Americans, have certain stereotypes about South Africa that you'd like to dispel?

South Africa is a rich country in art, culture, and music. 

The stereotype is mostly crime, especially in the township ghetto like Soweto, Alexandra, Thembisa, and Gugulethu in Cape Town. It's mostly the areas with blacks that have high crime and drug abuse. All other African countries see South Africa as the America of Africa. We host the highest number of economic migrants, contributing to the high crime. Most migrants don't have legal papers to get jobs, so they commit crimes to survive.

Soweto train full of migrants

Also, the people of South Africa are kind and welcoming as we practice Ubuntu.

Nelson Mandela in 2006 was asked to define "ubuntu"

South Africa has the best weather and safari, with the highest number of dollar millionaires and the most unequal society in the world.

How do you see the transition from the white-minority rule to ANC? What has gotten better, and what has gotten worse?

Most people actually think that under white apartheid colonial rule, the country was much safer, better, and cleaner with law & order. The inflation was low as our currency was identical to the British pound, as we were using everything British.
The white rule was more sustainable, with less crime and more opportunities.
ANC South Africa
Cyril Ramaphosa Wins A.N.C. Leadership Battle in South Africa

The ANC is a corrupt party, just like most banana Republics in Africa. Its leaders steal and loot all state resources. So we need a multi-party democracy as one-party domination leaves to kleptocracy and mediocrity.

 Where would you like to see South Africa in 20 years?

Being a self-sufficient country like Botswana or Egypt. But I plan to relocate in the future as everything is on a downward spiral. Most of my friends have migrated. It's actually getting worse with no accountability from the ANC politicians.

What message as an artist do you want your work to convey, particularly to an international audience?

I try to tell South African stories, especially from the ghetto of Soweto. My art also tries to address inequality and low quality of life. Especially for the ghetto masses, as most are brainwashed and keep voting for the redundant and corrupt ANC government.

Lake Michelle and Masiphumelele, Cape Town. South African Inequality

Lake Michelle and Masiphumelele, Cape Town.


Tsholo's art 





Learn more about Splash and his artwork.

1 comment

  • Alex

    Interesting art and insider perspective on South Africa. Just like his art, his comments in this interview highlight the complexity of the world we live in and that it is not white and black and clear cut between good and evil. Often, good that displaces the evil brings a new kind of evil. Sometimes, people who are close to us can hurt us more than any stranger, and when they do, it can multiply the effect of pain.

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