Nelson Mandela University: A determined, dedicated and selfless visionary

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Internationally renowned and locally loved Sakumzi Nyendwana has continued to use his talent to help uplift the impoverished Motherwell youth through the arts.

The ability of Nyendwana, 36, to use art as a tool to educate, heal and transform communities has earned him the title of The Herald Nelson Mandela University Citizens of The Year Award 2022 category winner for Arts and Culture.

From humble beginnings, the visual artist has gone on to exhibit and sell his work as far afield as China, the UK, US and Italy, to name a few.

But closer to home, Nyendwana said he used his art as an important tool in raising environmental awareness and educating children in a playful manner.

He fell in love with art in 1994 while attending Mboniselo Primary School.

Having grown up without television at home, art became a source of entertainment and comfort, with him drawing inspiration from cartoons .

He is the founder and director of the Hand in Hand Visual Art Studio, which he co-owns with his younger brother, Msindisi.

Nyendwana said he was proud to be using art as a tool to raise environmental awareness.

“My biggest achievement was to transform my own room at home into an art studio which serves as a community academy that has inspired many youngsters.

“They had lost hope of following their dreams in the arts, but are now taking art as a serious and dignified career,” he said.

The Walter Sisulu University alumnus is working on two projects, the Gratitude Art Project and Problem is a Solution.

The Gratitude Art Project is designed to improve the skills of children aged 10-18 in concept development, drawing and painting. The Problem is a Solution programme is aimed at raising environmental awareness and education.

“Children are the future, so early childhood development is a very important tool to build their own wellbeing by exploring their feelings.

“The rhythmic and repetitive skills needed to draw or paint have been proved to have therapeutic benefits, improve mental health and emotional wellbeing.

“The practice of drawing increases the natural serotonin production, which induces a natural state of mindfulness — a trait we want in all our children,” Nyendwana said.

In the past eight years, he has also transformed four illegal dumpsites in the area into eco-friendly attractions.

“Humans have an impact on our environment and changing human behaviour could change our future.

“This means that climate change art can be understood as an ‘educator’, through using emotional experience.

“It triggers a change in viewers’ behaviour,” Nyendwana said.

Nyendwana has amassed several accolades for his various pieces, including the top artist award from the AU art and heritage committee during a cultural exchange exhibition in Jacksonville, Florida.

“I am super-proud of myself. “My dream is to have an arts academy here in Motherwell. I would say to the youth, dream and believe in yourselves.

“Do not do things for fame, do them because you can.”

Phumela Mzimane, 24, who nominated Nyendwana for the category, said she had known him for more than four years and put his name forward as he was a determined, dedicated and selfless visionary.

“He works with children by giving them art activities and taking them on trips to keep them occupied because we live in a community where there is a lot of substance abuse,” Mzimane said.

Other residents who motivated for him to win described him as a revolutionary artist who found beauty in everything.

The top 10 category winners will be celebrated at a formal black-tie gala awards ceremony, which will be held on Friday September 9 at 6.30pm at the Radisson Blu Hotel.

Corporate and single tickets are available for supporters who would like to attend the celebratory event.

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