By Edward Tsumele

South African visual artist Reggie Khumalo is currently basking in the spotlight in Berlin, Germany, where he has completed an arts residency.

On Monday, 20 September Khumalo unveiled his giant art piece titled The African Last Supper, that pays tribute to the enduring spirit of African women.

The African Last Supper is a stunning piece of artwork that takes the viewer into a sacred space of African women’s power that lies behind some of their remarkable qualities, these include the ability to carry the scars brought by the environment in which they find themselves.

The piece also alludes to the fact that these women, whose weight of challenges breaks them down and turns them into lesser human beings. However, they have it in them to come out triumphantly.

Since Khumalo posted his piece on social media on 21 September, he has been receiving a lot of compliments from many quarters, not only because the piece is beautiful aesthetically, but because there is more to it.

This because Khumalo has managed, in a remarkable way, to represent conceptually and visually, what many have come to acknowledge, and that is the rare quality of African women to go through so much and yet they seem not to lose themselves as they regroup intellectually and spiritually to face the world with confidence, grace and courage despite undergoing so much.

In this piece Khumalo has also managed to bring out all these qualities without hiding the pain that women in Africa face, particularly gender-based violence, which unfortunately has reached pandemic proportions in this country.

In the economy of gender equality, the black woman is at the bottom. Despite this, she still finds it in her heart to love, care, nurture and lead. She is the pillar of the village and the pillar of Africa.

“Most people ask me why l paint black women’s faces. For me, understanding my role as a man, I have had to dig deeper into understanding the matriarch in me. I have done that through the study of painting these wonder women,” said Khumalo.

“I’m in awe of her strength, I’m moved by her humbleness. I’m lifted by her courage. I have found her to be the centre of UBUNTU. To know Ubuntu is to know her.”

Khumalo is also a philanthropist, who has used art to assist those who are less-privileged.  A few years ago, in our several encounters in Maboneng, Joburg, he told me about his travel throughout Africa mainly on a bike to raise money for charitable causes, these include raising money to help provide education in Mozambique.

“It’s not enough to be just an artist. I want to paint the picture and be in it too, to help communities in Africa from proceeds of my work. It has healed my heart. Let’s share our privilege.

“Thank you to my adopted mum, Sindi Mabaso Koyana, for showing someone’s child Ubuntu. Thank you to all the wonder women who have supported my journey thus far. Thank you to @deboreve and Lola Castro and the rest of the @worldfoodprogramme team for believing in me. Thank you for the platform to reach the most vulnerable, with no food. Thank you @satellitesofart for the opportunity to do residency in Berlin.

“Thank you to my friends at the Spanish embassy for the support and assistance always. Thank you to my Team @mmabatho @brightndlov and my home gallery @mmarthouse @bishoponbedford. Thank you to others, that are too many to mention and, of course, to yourself for following my journey. Let’s share the heart of UBUNTU (I am because you are,” he wrote on his timeline after the unveiling his piece. –

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