Young painter’s life-changing meeting
An embarrassingly random meeting with Botswana’s apex visual artist, Wilson Ngoni has inspired an aspiring 18-year-old painter to take up his craft a notch higher.
Born and raised in Tsamaya village, 44km north east of Francistown, Mbakanyi Kabelo has always been an artist at heart.
“I started taking visual art in 2020 after I failed my junior certificate,” revealed the youngster, adding that while he did not do well in the core subjects, he got an A in Art.
“It’s the only thing I was ever good at, and I always knew I’d pass with flying colours,” he said.
After his disappointing results, Kabelo began painting and selling his pictures on the street, and attending workshops at Thapong Visual Arts in Gaborone.
His life would completely change one afternoon in August last year, while selling his work at Mowana Park Mall in Phakalane.
“I approached a man to sell my picture, and it just happened that he was the famous Wilson Ngoni. I was so embarrassed because I followed him and even shared his pictures on social media, but didn’t really know him,” he smiled.
Kabelo said Ngoni gave him his book ‘Living with the brush’ some paints and advised him of the best spot to sell his work and where to get material at a good price.
“Since that encounter, I’ve grown in confidence and have held exhibitions at Acacia Mall and Roots of Africa,” said Kabelo, adding he is in Ghetto for the day to try and find customers for his pics, with his next port-of-call after the interview being Adansonia Hotel – a journey he admits he has to make on foot!
The artist hopes to get funding to open his own studio with the right equipment, where he’ll be able to paint pictures as good as his mentor’s masterpieces.