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Monkgo wa Mothalo is a retrospective exhibition at Museum Africa, of the graphics and drawings of Lefifi Tladi. There are workshops, a symposium and live performances.
POETRY, graphics and drawings are on the menu at Museum Africa, where the Monkgo wa Mothalo exhibition opened on 19 March. It closes on 24 April.


Lefifi Tladi sets up his artwork at Museum AfricaLefifi Tladi sets up his artwork at Museum AfricaMonkgo wa Mothalo (Scent of Line) is a Tswana metaphor meaning “appreciating drawing”. On show are the drawings and graphics of Lefifi Tladi, a painter, poet, musician, philosopher and teacher.

A retrospective of his art over the past 30 years, it features graphics, drawings, woodcuts and dry-point etching. On the exhibition programme are a poetry workshop, a visual art workshop, a visual art symposium and live music and poetry performances.

Tladi was born in 1949 and was introduced to art by Isaac Nkoana, a teacher at the centre he attended in Ga-Rankuwa. They have been working together ever since.

Tladi co-founded the band Dashiki in the 1970s, inspired by the band, Malombo. But he was arrested in 1976 and went into exile in Botswana, where he continued with his art. Four years later, in 1980, he was offered a scholarship to study art at the Royal Academy of Arts in Stockholm, Sweden.

Here he met Harvey Copper, whom he calls his guru. “I learned a lot from the African-American painter Harvey Copper. He always told me that if I want to be a good artist I have to read a lot to help widen my ideas as an artist,” says Tladi.

“My future plans were to become a very good artist and now I am living in the future because I have achieved all that.”

Tladi’s art explores the importance of endurance, dedication and commitment. In his work, he concentrates on the style and beauty of the African spirit. Giving back to the community, he has an art centre in Pretoria called Bataki-Ba-Tshwane, an association for the advancement of creative artists.

It works to create jobs for young artists, such as singers, poets and painters, among others.

Talking about motivation, Tladi says his favourite quote is from Martin Luther King Junior: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and Earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’”

Art students, artists and anyone interested in participating in these workshops and symposium should email their details to

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