Writing Art History Since 2002

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Courtesy of Owanto.

Owanto’s heart remains in the country of her birth, Gabon, but her work tells you the continent and indeed the world is her home. Her use of art to address Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on the continent has seen her receive recognition from art institutions across the world but more importantly from those who have been victims advocating for an end to this cruel practice. Owanto uses a multidisciplinary approach in her creative process and works across a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, video and installation.

We at Mbokodo admire her and believe as a human rights activist; the incredible work she does to eradicate FGM by shining the spotlight on it and unearthing the ways we can unmask the perpetrators through art is crucial at this time. Her work extends beyond the art as she is a campaigner and active voice against the practice. Her unique aesthetic is one that is gentle and beautiful that this practice is depicted in a manner that is respectful and loving towards those we view as victims. Owanto is also a great ambassador for African art which is an important factor in this recognition too.

04 December 2020 saw a Covid compliant 80 people Mbokodo Awards event take place at the Quoin Rock wine estate in Stellenbosch with architect Julia Gaiduk welcoming guests and Mbokodo Chairman Shado Twala opening proceedings. True to Carol Bouwer Productions woman-centric mantra, it was a who’s who of women empowerment, literature and arts. The strong focus on women was palpable with GBV, child safety and literacy at the core of the event.

This year saw the Mbokodo awards honour two non-South Africans and this is at the heart of founder Carol Bouwer’s desire to bring the continent together to forge unity of purpose in the arts and beyond.

CEO of The Norval Foundation, Ms Elana Brundyn returned to the Mbokodo Panel and her impact is felt even as we looked at the art across the Mbokodo awards venue. “The Norval is a leading art knowledge institution on the continent and Elana brings a unique background of having built heritage institutions and having achieved that at the highest level.”

Completing the line-up is Dr Bandile Hadebe who has been with the Mbokodo Awards since inception, founder Ms Carol Bouwer with Mbokodo Line Producer Clive Mathibe.

The 9th instalment of the Mbokodo Awards had an impressive sponsor list starting with Quoin Rock Wine Estate and Carol Bouwer Productions who were joined by Jaguar/Land Rover and French beauty brand Lancóme.

Read Valentine Umansky’s article, ‘A Thousand Voices But Two Thousand Feet’ in our Digital Edition here.

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