Graphic tribute to a heroine

A painting of Thuli Madonsela in Rosedale Drive, Uitenhage Picture: Fredlin Adriaan
A painting of Thuli Madonsela in Rosedale Drive, Uitenhage
Picture: Fredlin Adriaan

He may not have captured the state, but a Port Elizabeth artist is capturing the imagination of those who admire the woman who relentlessly pursued and probed the issue.

A dilapidated building in the middle of the veld in Uitenhage where cows often graze is turning out to be the centre of attraction for locals and passers-by who are greeted by the imposing countenance of former public protector Thuli Madonsela.

Artist Buntu Fihla
Artist Buntu Fihla

Titled My President, the large wall mural is visible to motorists driving down Maduna Road, KwaLanga, and the artist, Buntu Fihla, speaks fondly of the qualities and courage demonstrated by Madonsela.

The mural, which was painted a few months ago on the abandoned building, symbolised gratitude to her and the rest of South Africa’s mothers for their dedication and sacrifice, Fihla said.

“Madonsela is synonymous with many things – uprightness, anti-corruption, bravery and integrity. This mural also celebrates the sacrifices made by all the mothers and I want to say thank you. Anything that has a mother’s touch is dignified.”

Born in Mnqaba Village, King William’s Town, Fihla, 35, said he had been inspired by the work of Madonsela, whom he has yet to meet in person.

Asked how the idea had come about, Fihla – who recently relocated to Port Elizabeth – said: “I needed to paint something unique that will have a lasting impact.

“When my cousin and I drove past that building, a thought of Madonsela quickly dropped in.

“She to me, she is like what Justin Bieber means to a 15-year-old. She is a heroine of mine,” he said.

Fihla, who got married two weeks ago, expressed the wish that his young daughter would grow up with the values espoused by Madonsela.

“I would love my daughter to grow up being as principled as Madonsela. She is a good example and I would like to meet her one day.”

Fihla matriculated at Dale College in 1998 and went on to do graphic design at the former Wits Technikon and later Cape Technikon, where he graduated with a diploma in 2005. He has worked for a number of organisations and has since formed his own NPO.

Fihla is doing a series of portraits of mothers in his community in recognition of the pivotal role they have played to uplift others.

“How do we start to thank all these mothers? They are mothers not only to us, but our families as well. They have played a huge role and this is one way of acknowledging them,” he said.

Fihla appealed to individuals with buildings with well-positioned walls and accessibility to the masses to contact him should they require graffiti.

  • For more information, contact Fihla through his website:

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