16 ON LEROTHOLI Natural Habitat Words Jabulile Dlamini-Qwesha

Published 25 March 2023 in News


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Nataal sits down with the founders of a new gallery in Langa after its participation in Investec Cape Town Art Fair 2023

16 on Lerotholi, the newly refurbished gallery in Langa Cape Town, seeks to preserve its community’s prolific legacy. True transformation starts with the imagination, and the gallery’s founders, Thulani Fesi, Khanyo Ngcukana, Shaun Williams and Mpilo Ngcukana, believe that visual art can be a catalyst to a cultural exchange that fosters a sense of pride. They also believe it can combat the corrosive effects of colonialism by inspiring curiosity around the history that shape different African cultures.

Art can be an antidote to anarchy in how it allows for alternative world-making and the exploration of different points of view. Alongside the necessary protest action and the social unrest to which an unequal society plays host, a creative imagining enables the need to build something better from the ashes rather than descending into infighting or despair.

“While our platform puts a focus on works by artists and cultural practitioners who are from Langa, we also showcase talent from other parts of the country and across the continent,” says Mpilo Ngcukana. “One of the lasting effects of colonisation on the African psyche is the indoctrination of division and competitiveness between cultural groups. Exposing people to a diversity of artistic expressions broadens our understanding of each other and allows us to celebrate commonalities and shared values.”

Langa’s legacy is linked to its origins as one of the oldest townships in South Africa and a focal area in the resistance against apartheid. It’s named after Chief Langalibalele, a renowned rainmaker, who was imprisoned on Robben Island. Initially one of the sites that symbolise a heinous displacement, it became a reflection of the resilience of its people by being the most activated places in the face of any social unrest.

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