Who is Sam Nhlengethwa?

By Gillian Anstey

Sam Nhlengethwa was born on January 9, 1955 in Payneville, Springs. He still lives on the East Rand and is close to his community and proud of his neighbourhood and its heritage.

In 1978 he completed a two-year fine arts diploma at the Rorke's Drift Art Centre and his career has grown enormously since then. He has exhibited his work in many countries (one of his favourites being Cuba, at the Havana Biennale) and it features in many public collections from the Johannesburg Art Gallery and the German Art Museum in Frankfurt to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.

His studio is based in downtown Johannesburg at the internationally recognised Bag Factory Artists' Studios. He exhibits regularly at the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg and, in a communal spirit, frequently collaborates with other artists, including Robert Hodgins, Andrew Tshabangu to Zwelethu Mthethwa.

In a biographical feature on www.artthrob.co.za, Sean O'Toole writes: "Nhlengethwa is an artist curious about the intimacies of home, an artist drawn to the immediacy of his surroundings, and - importantly - an artist whose work has sometimes reflected upon the epochal moments defining recent South African history."

Nhlengethwa was particularly excited about this commission for the Sunday Times Heritage project because, he says: "I was born an Orlando Pirates fan."



back to the Bethuel Mokgosinyana memorial page

"Without Bethuel Mokgosinyana, there would be no Buccaneers."
Bethuel Mokgosinyana
Pirates fans, 1970s
Bailey's History Archives


Tradition as historical source

In this lesson plan, learners are asked to think about how the oral traditions that people create around their favourite sports teams can be a historical source. We use Bethuel Mokgosinyana and the story of the origins of Orlando Pirates as our example.

Lesson plan
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Archive Photo Gallery
A selection of images of Orlando Pirates players and their huge fan base
Artwork Photo Gallery
See Sam Nhlengethwa’s memorial outside the Mokgosinyana family home in Orlando, Soweto.
Audio Documentary
The formation of Orlando Pirates in the late 1930s was the defining moment in the growth of mass support for soccer in SA. This documentary explains why.
Orlando Pirates and the Struggle
Donald Dliwayo, a former chairman of Orlando Pirates, reminisces about the team’s contribution to the liberation struggle.