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Sibo’s Story

Sibo's Story


Every month, we take a closer look at one of Amandla Ubuntu’s talented artists, creators or designers.

This month, we’re taking a closer look at Sibo’s wonderful creations and her journey so far. We spoke to her about her early life, her love of all things art and how her designs were showcased at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum.

I was a very young child when I discovered my love of art. My whole family was creative and I remember watching my mother - who was a teacher - making teaching aids for her classes. She used to let me help her, which I adored. I realised then that I had a natural talent for arts and crafts.
This wasn’t a surprise given my mom’s artistic abilities and the fact that my dad was a carpenter and house builder, always sketching his plans; he even taught me how to read and understand a building blueprint. He was great at turning what others considered ‘rubbish’ into something useful or creative. Like my mum, he had a talent for drawing and painting, but he never pursued a career in it.

In 1986, during the Apartheid struggles, me and my siblings went to study in Thaba-Nchu. It was there that I entered my first art competition. I won 1st prize and still remember how amazing I felt when I found out.

I was diagnosed with epilepsy as a child so I was always indoors, painting or sketching. My mum and dad used to buy me water paints, crayons and sketchbooks whenever I needed them and my primary school teachers encouraged my passions too. They let me design some of their teaching aids, paint cartoons for the other children and create logos for the school sports teams. I was so grateful for their support - it really boosted my confidence.

It also took my mind away from the difficulties of my illness. After going back and forth and back and forth to the doctors for so many years, they told my parents that I didn’t have epilepsy, but they weren’t sure what the diagnosis really was. They had told them though that, with my condition, I’d have to choose studies that were more practical than theoretical. All of the local art schools were full, so I went on to study fashion design instead. I was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but painting and creating really helped. It brought me peace of mind, and it still does to this day.


Because of my bipolar, I struggled to get a job, so I started to make greetings cards to sell - for Christmas, birthdays, Valentine’s and invitations. I learned by watching TV and YouTube and looking for inspiration on Pinterest. If I ever lacked confidence, I told myself that, if it can be done by another person with two hands, I can do it too, perhaps even better. And that’s when I started to create my dolls.

It made me so proud when my sister (a teacher) asked if she could show my creations to her pupils. She wanted to show them that you can make something beautiful with ordinary things around you. They were amazed at what I’d done, so I carried on using recycled materials to make art, just like my father had.
Some great artists like "George Pemba", & Mxolisi "Dolla" Sapeta are from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, like me - they actually taught me how to sketch using coal. I still live in my hometown, where I design and produce all of my creations, including my dolls. They were even on display for a time at the The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum. It’s great to be able to use my talent to create something beautiful, both in terms of my designs and how being artistic makes me feel.

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