Visual artist donates 28 works of art to raise funds for underprivileged learners, cleft palate surgeries
To mark Mandela Day, visual artist Greatjoy Njabulo Ndlovu auctioned 28 works of art and donated the proceeds to a group that funds scholarships for underprivileged learners and another that provides free surgeries for people with cleft palates.
On Mandela Day, visual artist Greatjoy Njabulo Ndlovu put 28 of his art pieces up for auction at Rosemary Hill farm in Pretoria at an event called “A Night with Greatjoy”. Ndlovu dedicated his 28th piece, titled Infinite, to former president Nelson Mandela in recognition of his work in empowering children.
The beneficiaries of the funds raised were the Kay Mason Foundation, an NPO that works in education and offers underprivileged learners scholarships to pursue their studies, and Operation Smile, which provides free surgeries for children and young adults with cleft palates.
“I chose to dedicate part of my life’s work to impacting the lives of children because I wholeheartedly believe that every child deserves a fair chance at a happy, healthy and successful life, without being held back by circumstances beyond their control.
“I feel a personal connection to this cause because I understand that these same children, under different circumstances, could grow up to become noble leaders, intelligent scientists and contributing citizens,” Ndlovu said in a statement prior to the event.
Mbali Khubeka, the 2008 recipient of a scholarship from the Kay Mason Foundation and now an alumnus, spoke at the auction. She said the scholarship allowed her to “finally become a child” and be able to focus on her studies. She went on to graduate top of her class at Stellenbosch University and is now an investment banker.
“I am now waiting for the day when I, too, can become a donor and say I have come full circle,” Khubeka said.
“The foundation is helping to change the narrative of so many South African families … every child deserves a successful life.”
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Ingrid Mfulane from Operation Smile told those in attendance Mandela Day showed that “giving is not just about a donation – it is about making a difference”.
She said children with cleft palates were often hidden away in communities and even abandoned because of the stigma attached to their condition. They often do not attend school, and when they do, they are mocked and ridiculed.
Mfulane said that many families, particularly those in disadvantaged communities, cannot afford to pay for their children to have the life-changing surgery.
“The gift of surgery doesn’t end at surgery; it is both a physical and mental gift allowing children to integrate into communities,” Mfulane said.
At the auction, Ndlovu said he considered art to be about community and living a life of purpose and fulfilment.
“What inspired me to create ‘A Night of Greatjoy’ was to enhance and enrich the spirit of Madiba, and also to share the idea of generosity amongst artists and the art community, so I had to create a body of work that was inspiring and enlightening,” said Ndlovu.
He went on to say that the reason he collaborated with the non-profits was to “create the spirit of ubuntu”.
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While this was the inaugural event, Ndlovu plans to host it again in New York next year. He hopes to make it a global event that attracts more artists and other charitable organisations.
Eighteen of the art pieces that were bid on will be donated to children’s hospitals – including the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital – around the world. DM