Artist with failing eyesight ‘rises above expectations’

2014-07-11 00:00

FIGHTING the battle of failing sight every day, Durban artist Nathi Ngubane has fought against all odds, penning two books and becoming a recognised artist.

“I’m not one to say much about myself, but I can tell you that I love to draw,” he said.

The 24-year-old has two well-regarded published books and countless art in the public domain.

“I was born prematurely, that’s why I have very little sight in only one eye. There is a 50% chance of losing my eyesight completely,” Ngubane said.

Growing up in Chesterville, Ngubane resorted to drawing as a hobby to take up his spare time. “I prefer drawing to spending time with friends because friends come and go, but this love of drawing will never leave me.”

While attending Open Air School in Durban, for children with special needs, teachers spotted his talent.

Nell van Wyk, a former teacher, said she noticed Ngubane’s talent.

“I recognised how passionate Nathi was, his talent really sets him apart. It’s not just his drawings, he is very intelligent. It’s wonderful to see someone so young chasing his dreams.”

Ngubane currently works as a cartoonist for The Daily Vox, an alternative online news website.

Ngubane still lives in Durban with his parents and three siblings. He said his family used to face financial difficulties, which just encouraged him to become more successful.

“Even though many artists have a major advantage over me because they have better sight, I work with what I have,” he said

Between inking cartoons, Ngubane is also in his third year of a Diploma in Graphic Design at the Durban University of Technology.

His first graphic novel was Teenagers, Guys and Girls that was published by umSinsi Press in 2007. The following year he published his first literary novel, Teenagers Living Life, with the same publishers. “The message of the book is to show that anybody has the ability the rise above what others expect of you and to push harder.”

He has won awards from DUT, the Department of Arts and Culture and from Centre for Fine Art, Animation and Design.

Ngubane said he aspires to work as an editorial cartoonist. “I think 20 years into democracy, we are all given an equal opportunity so there is nothing holding me back from pursing my career in the media industry.

“I love editorial cartooning because we get to depict what the public are thinking but won’t say,” he said.

Nanda Soobben has been his greatest inspiration because of his style of cartooning and because he considers him the first great black cartoonist in the country.

Ngubane’s family have always encouraged him to pursue his dream.

“My parents have instilled good values in me and they are always encouraging me to keep pushing,” he said.

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