Who are Mxolisi Sapeta and Andrew Lindsay?

Mxolisi "Dolla" Sapeta, an artist based in Port Elizabeth, developed the concept for the Raymond Mhlaba memorial.
Picture courtesy of Lesley Perkes

Port Elizabeth-born Mxolisi "Dolla" Sapeta's work explores South African socio-political issues. "I find it difficult to ignore these issues every time I turn on the TV, open my front door or walk the streets," he says.

An artist with four major exhibitions under his belt, Sapeta is also a published poet. He has been part of numerous group shows in Ghana, Burkina Faso, Togo, Nigeria, Benin, Mali, Switzerland and London. In October 2004, he was invited to attend the Pan African Circle of Artists Biennale.

Sapeta, who holds an Intec College Foundation Art Certificate and a Fine Art National Diploma, lectured at the Port Elizabeth College for six years.

Andrew Lindsay, who is curator and founder of the Spaza Art Gallery in Troyeville, has driven numerous public artwork projects in Johannesburg.

In the 1990s Lindsay worked on a range of painting projects throughout South Africa, including many for the Mineworkers Development Agency. Wherever he was working and researching, he involved local artists in painting murals. Born out of his desire to market these artists' work, Spaza Art Gallery opened in March 2001.

It is a non-profit organisation that works to provide a showcase for artists from around South Africa, as well as a venue for other activities, such as exhibitions, poetry readings, music, workshops, theatre, comedy and even Sunday lunches.

Spaza Art was commissioned by the architects of the new Constitutional Court buildings in Braamfontein to create a door for the court, as well as mosaic work, and designed and built mosaics to cover the external walls of the public swimming pool in Yeoville to mark the Rand Water centenary.

Together with marketing consultant and writer Tamiko Sher, Lindsay designed Underground Jozi, the hand-drawn map of the "real" Johannesburg.

Andrew Lindsay worked with four emerging artists to give life to a concept for the Raymond Mhlaba memorial developed in collaboration with Sapeta.
Andrew Lindsay worked with four emerging artists to give life to a concept for the Raymond Mhlaba memorial developed in collaboration with Sapeta.
Picture courtesy of Lesley Perkes

In addition to his work on the memorial to defiance campaign leader Raymond Mhlaba in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, he also worked on the memorial honouring Happyboy Mgxaji, in Mdantsane, also in the Eastern Cape.

Based on a concept developed in collaboration with Sapeta, Lindsay worked with four emerging artists - Mdala Mathaba, Joshua Moekena, Etsositswe "Tau" Mathe and Sven Theunissen - to create the artwork installed outside the Red Location Museum, close to the railway station.

The young artists who worked on the mosaic include:

  • Etsositswe "Tau" Mathe is from Morokweng in North West Province, who holds a degree from North West University. He has been drawing since he was very young. In the 1990s he met Lindsay, who introduced him to mosaics. He has extended his work to linocuts, painting and sculpture. Mathe says he has found the defiance campaign artwork "challenging" and "a good experience".
  • Joshua Moekena is from Thembisa in Gauteng. He is strictly a mosaic artist who has also worked on other major mosaic projects through the Spaza Gallery.
  • Sven Theunissen completed his studies at the Pretoria Technikon in 1991 and then taught life drawing and general drawing skills and held down odd jobs to support his artistic development. He says the defiance campaign project presented him "with a great opportunity and a few artistic challenges: firstly to work on a large-scale mosaic, secondly to work as part of a team, and thirdly to work on someone else's design".

back to the Raymond Mhlaba memorial page

"I opened the way for others to defy an unjust system."
Raymond Mhlaba
Raymond Mhlaba
Picture: Courtesy of Thembeka Mufamadi


In this lesson plan, learners will have an opportunity to study Raymond Mhlaba's memoirs as he related them to a historian in 2001. They will be able to think about the value of oral history and how it provides new insights into events.

Lesson plan
You′ll need the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader to view these lesson plans. Download it here.
Archive and Artwork Photo Gallery
Images from Raymond Mhlaba’s life and of the Heritage Project’s memorial to his role in the 1952 defiance campaign.
Audio about Raymond Mhlaba
Family, friends and colleagues talk about Raymond Mhlaba and why he is regarded as one of the unsung heroes of the Eastern Cape
Raymond Mhlaba speaks about life imprisonment
In June 1964, Raymond Mhlaba and seven other icons of the struggle against apartheid were sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island. For them the sentence came as a relief — it was much better than the death sentence they were expecting. In this e
Mhlaba and Mandela on the 1952 Defiance Campaign
In 1952, Raymond Mhlaba launched the famous Defiance Campaign by walking into a whites-only area at the New Brighton train station, knowing that he would be arrested. In this video extract from a documentary by Dali Tambo, Mhlaba and Nelson Mandela remi