Ifa Lethu Mourns the Passing of its Board Member

Together with South Africa, the Ifa Lethu foundation mourns the passing of legendary jazz musician, Hugh Masekela. Uncle Hugh lost his courageous battle with prostate cancer in Johannesburg on Tuesday, 23 January 2018. While the country mourns the loss of such phenomenal talent in the music industry, Ifa Lethu mourns the loss of a very dear friend and advisor. After serving as a founding Director on the Foundation’s South African Board, Uncle Hugh went on to sit on Ifa Lethu’s Board of Elders. During his tenure on the latter he continued to provide wise counsel on our work and projects as well as to motivate our youth entrepreneurs. His involvement and performances in our many global events was legendary. This was especially the case when he performed for the FTSE 100 CEO’s and Chairpersons as well as celebrities at the Lord Mayor’s/Ifa Lethu Gala Investment Dinner in London. Hamba Kahle Uncle Hugh and May You continue to inspire us and our youth for eternity.

Director and CEO, Dr. Narissa Ramdhani addressed delegates  at the 2nd National Conference of the South African Cultural Observatory on The Creative Economy and Development.  The conference was held at the Turbine Hall, Johannesburg from 24-26 May 2017. Her address was entitled.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Rural Industrialisation and Development: Successes for Ifa Lethu in the Creative Economy of South Africa.        
Brand Ambassador of Ifa Lethu, Michael Selekane, joined Dr. Ramdhani as a co-presenter at the Cultural Observatory National Conference in May 2017. 


Edward Maqwacha Miya is our featured artist (fashion designer) for this quarter.  Edward has been fortunate to have participated in the Ifa Lethu Creative Entrepreneurship training and Mentoring programmes the Ditlabeng Municipality(Clarens) of the Free State Province in 2016-2017.


Johnny Ribeiro

Johnny Ribeiro was born in Newclare next to Marabastad in 1959, relocating to Lady Selbourne, near Pretoria in a forced removal. This was followed another forced removal to Ga-Rankua.

Ribeiro came from a stable family with his mother working in their own dress making business. In 1966 Ribeiro was sent to a catholic school in Aliwal North in the Eastern Cape where he met Thomas Height, one of the priests who was also an artist. Impressed by Ribeiro’s willingness to learn about the dynamics of art, Height worked towards advising the young Ribeiro. It was during this time that Ribeiro decided on art as a career.

As a child, Ribeiro showed signs of being a future artist. He recalls that, “I liked to draw using watercolours my parents bought me in small painting kits”. Inspired and encouraged by Height, he began to paint the landscapes of Aliwal North. Robeiro kept these pieces until today where they hang his home.

Ribeiro returned to Pretoria where he finished his secondary education and he began to produce work as a professional artist. He would often disappear during school hours to attend to his art activities and it was only after he made headlines in the newspapers that the teachers became aware of his activities. In 1969, Ribeiro made a decision to pursue art as career feeling “I express myself best through art”.

Lefifi Tladi, another Pretoria-based artist, introduced Ribeiro to other artists, some of whom were members of the Black Consciousness Movement, such as Ben Arnold, Wally Serote, Don Mattera. Tladi was also instrumental in introducing Ribeiro to Ike Nkoana, a specialist in woodcuts, and they worked together for some time exchanging skills in different media. As with many other artists of his generation Ribeiro met Jeff Mpakathi who was well connected with different embassies around Pretoria. Eventually the artworks of Ribeiro and others were exhibited in these embassies.

Unusally the Pretoria municipality had made available two houses which were used for cultural, drama and visual art by township dwellers - known as the “Club House”, artists from all over the area often visited the Club House to intermingle with their counterparts.

Over time, Ribeiro produced much work on wooden panels and sculpture. Classified today as a struggle artist, some of his struggle work was smuggled out of the country through Botswana. Ribeiro mentions that some of the pieces produced then were satirized for the purposes of avoiding open conflict with the apartheid regime. He remembers that, “There were some pieces which we sold locally, and we mostly tried not to depict the struggle openly…but if you look at it very carefully you can see it”.

One of his pieces, The Crucifix (Oil on paper) was produced at the height of the Black Consciousness era. The oil painting depicted a Black Jesus on the cross. Ribeiro cut his finger to drop some blood to run down from the wounds. The security police interviewed Ribeiro on the piece and he convinced them it was just a painting on Christ’s crucifixion, while it was clearly about black oppression in South Africa.

Ribeiro’s work has been exhibited in Pretoria and elsewhere, with his second solo exhibition being hosted by the South African Association of Arts in 1977. Robeiro continues to work as an artist and today lives in Ga-Rankua. His current work depicts musicians in joyous mood. Robeiro’s work includes Musician: 1982 (linocut on paper), Dancer: 1970(linocut on paper), Ndebele Dancer: 1979, (linocut on paper) Feast (oil carving pressed wood and metal), Crucifix (painted and carved pressed wood), Woman (unbaked clay), Guitarist (oil painted and carved pressed wood), Still life:1978 (pasted on paper), Woman (Pencil on paper), Crucifix (pencil/graphite on paper), Elongated figure (tamboti), Woman (wood), Genesis Gillespie (musician), Dowry, (linocut on paper), Sea Scape (oil on canvas board), Landscape (oil on canvas board), Ndebele Dancers:1976, Dancer

Click here to view other artworks

Ifa Lethu completed two further projects nationally in recent months.  They included the Creative Entrepreneurial Project Phase 2 in Clarens, Free State and the Arts and Craft Beneficiation Project for the Cradle of Humankind (COH)  World Heritage Site, the latter being the Foundation’s flagship project for 2016-2017.