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“What Black South Africans Ought to Be Painting”: Listen to an Interview with Selby Mvusi from the 1960s

Selby MvusiUnisa Press recently published an insightful account of the life and legacy of Selbourne Charlton Sobizwa Mvusi entitled Selby Mvusi: To Fly with the North Bird South by renowned art historian Elza Miles.

Miles provides a gripping narrative of Mvusi, an inimitable painter, sculptor, printmaker, poet and academic who was born in 1929 and died on 10 December, 1967, in Nairobi.

The African Writers’ Club has shared an interview between Mvusi and Albert Adams, another South African painter who was living abroad at the time.

According the South African History Online, Mvusi was a lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana from 1962 to 1964. At some point during this time he attended a UNESCO seminar on industrial design education in Brussels and on his way back to Ghana he stopped in London where he spoke to Adams.

Adams asked him how he copes with painting outside of South Africa, to which Mvusi responded: “As far as painting goes one can paint in the North Pole or the South Pole.” He said that the real difficulty is one of “patronage”: “One finds a whole hierarchy of expectations about what a Black South African ought to be painting rather than accepting what he in fact is painting.”

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