African Politics and Policy

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Frans Thoka’s Moipolai Ga Llelwe, Sello Sa Gagwe Ke Moropa

“How can an amateur artist paint the complexities of life in a way that not even a single visual metaphor or imagery loses its potential roots to make the brain think consciously without any exterior or interior force attacking it? Well, the inspiration to create “Moipolai ga a llelwe, sello sa gagwe ke moropa” comes from the Berlin Wall and the current South African state. “Moipolai ga a llelwe, sello sa gagwe ke moropa” is a Sepedi idiom which means that ugly manners come with ugly consequence. Hopefully, that serves as an answer to Huey Copeland’s question, “How do historical retrievals develop a kind of force, politically and formally, that makes an intervention in our conceptions of the present?”, in a book titled “Afro Modern: Journey Through The Black Atlantic (2010)” Regardless, the ideology of what makes a humankind human is what inspires me the most.
In my composition, there are three grounds; foreground, middle ground and background. There are four figures in the foreground; a headless winged human figure sitting in the bottom right corner, a toilet head human figure in the middle, carrying a nude baby figure on the toilet seat and arm wrestling a hog figure with his left hand, and holding a stick in his right hand. The middle ground consists of a triangle head figure sitting in a throne in the far left of the composition and a snake figure slithering from the triangle head figure’s garment. And the last ground, background, consists of a grouped ghostlike figure above the animal figure, mountainous landscape receding into the far background and heavy clouds behind the baby figure.
One may ask what does it mean to be human and who came with the concept of Ubuntu. Well, there seems to be an orbit of different explanations around the question.

Moipolai ga a llelwe, sello sa gagwe ke moropa addresses socio-political factors in Modern society; specifically in South Africa and Germany. The prison blanket represents the struggle and other socio-political factors in society. For instance, there is expropriation of land without compensation and issues around racism in South Africa. Those have created an unpleasant world; people lose their lives on farms. Hence, Moipolai ga a llelwe, sello sa gagwe ke moropa seems to have a sense of sinister. I achieve that through expressive monochromatic mark making. In essence, the contrast created by the marks represents the tension between different racial groups. The toilet head man represents mental slavery and how the majority of people in power misuse their privilege by abusing and enslaving the unprivileged.
As mentioned in the introduction, moipolai ga a llelwe sello sa gagwe ke moropa. That’s the reason behind the crying nude baby figure on the toilet. The hog the toilet man is arm-wresting represents the wildness of “the privileged” over the farm killings. History records confirm
that some of the lands were taken from the Blacks using weaponry and religion. Nowadays, history is vice versa that most farmers say the atrocities on farms show how inhumane Blacks are as if they were humane during the Apartheid regime. In such a world, democracy and humanity have become meaningless. And people will remain segregated until they are ready to demolish the Wall which serves as a racial boundary.”–Frans Thoka



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