“Having lived in a shelter in Johannesburg, surviving from the sale of empty Coke bottles, I experienced and learned to understand poverty and the harsher side of life. These experiences have taught me to treasure life and have inspired me to recreate this love of life through the medium of art.”
It is fascinating that an artist, who was living in a shelter in Johannesburg as little as 10 years ago, has become such an international success. Wakaba has been dubbed “The African Van Gogh” by the media and has developed a strong and loyal following of collectors both locally and abroad.
With no formal art training, this talented young artist is creating a major stir amongst South African and International art collectors alike. Wakaba boasts sell out shows in New York and Philadelphia and has traveled and exhibited extensively both locally and abroad.
Wakaba was invited to exhibit at the United Nations in Geneva and was commissioned by SAB to produce a painting that captures the essence of their premium label, Pilsner Urquell. This painting was unveiled at a gala event at the Kizo Art Gallery in Umhlanga on the 19th of October 2006.
He travelled throughout the world, Dubai, U.S.A, France, throughout Africa (19 countries) and made it his passion to study and learn from other cultures.
Wakaba is an extremely versatile artist and works in various mediums including oil and acrylic.
His works can range from modern contemporary to ultra realism.
He has completed a record cover for Gallo Records - Mbongeni Ngema’s Simuke Ndwendwe, various portraits of scenes from Ngema’s musical The Zulu, sold to Chris Tucker the African American actor, Liberty, Africa Bank, S’bu Ndebele The Premier of Kzn, King Goodwill Zwellithini, Moreland, IFA (major shareholders in The Palm Resort in Dubai and owners of The Fairmont Hotel in Dubai), exhibited at The New York Art Expo, Philadelphia International Black Arts Festival, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, Antiquarius Gallery Soho New York, Madiba Restaurant Brooklyn NYC, The S.A.Cardiff Trade Show, The Nedcor Building World Summit and in the delegates lounge at the Indaba Tourism Convention in the Durban International Convention Centre amongst numerous of the top South African home and décor shows.
Wakaba was one of 39 top artists from around the world that were chosen to take part in the recent collaboration between them and Mr Nelson Mandela.
In 2005, Wakaba was commissioned by Moreland, IFA and The Department of Transport to paint a triptych to celebrate the opening of the M4 on the Natal North Coast. One piece went to Moreland, one to The Department of Transport and one to IFA.
In the same year, 2 of Wakaba’s paintings were auctioned off at a celebrity studded charity event in Los Angeles during 2005 with all proceeds going to benefit children with HIV Aids.
Wakaba was invited to exhibit at the Zorgvliet, Le Chamonix and Boschendal wine estates in Cape Town in November and December 2005. One of his paintings was auctioned off at the Le Chamonix exhibition with all proceeds going to benefit a local charity.
In September 2006 at the United Nations in Geneva, selected by Ernst and Young as their preferred artist for a function in Durban in September, collaborated with 20 top South African and 46 respected Indian artists to exhibit in India in September (exhibition inaugurated by the President of India), and then in Durban in October as part of the official Satyagraha Celebrations.
He had coverage in numerous TV, Radio and print media including Reuters interview for international distribution, full page Mail and Guardian review and mention in the Business Day article as one of the African artists to invest money in.
Wakaba played a central role in terms of The Heritage Arts Festival, the premier arts festival in KwaZulu Natal in September 2007. He painted a painting to honour Chief Albert Luthuli.
Wakaba completed a portrait of Chief Albert Luthuli in 2008 that was purchased by The Chief Albert Luthuli Museum. Wakaba was then commissioned to paint a portrait in honour of John Langalibalele Dube.