GROWING up, Given Pemba (50) would keep nagging his grandfather and world-renowned painter, George Mnyaluza Pemba, to teach him the art of painting, but his grandfather would refuse and only tell him that the skill would come naturally to him, as painting was in the blood of the Pemba family.
Today, like his grandfather, Pemba is carving his own path as a self-taught painter with a collection of paintings that include one of President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“Painting, as my grandfather would say, runs in the family because I also began developing this skill at a very young age but I started taking it seriously at the age of 13.
“My older brother is also an accomplished painter and my three children, Siphosethu (23), Sonwabile (21) and Mihle (13) are gradually becoming accomplished self-taught painters,” said Pemba.
Apart from paintings, Pemba also does commissioned sign writing on buildings, a skill he says was very lucrative when he was in Johannesburg.
“I was in Johannesburg for a number of years and made a living by doing commissioned paint work and art signs on buildings and was able to even pay dowry and host a white wedding from those proceeds,’ Pemba, who is now based in Cofimvaba, said.
He said his desire was to now share his skills with other up-and-coming painters from his village.
“I have noticed that there are a lot of young ones who are interested in learning the art of painting and I am busy negotiating with schools in Cofimvaba and Komani for me to offer practical art lessons on painting,” he said.
Asked how long it takes him to complete a painting, Pemba said it depended on the complexity of the painting but warned it could be an arduous process, adding that the painting of Ramaphosa took him almost six weeks to finish.
Pemba said the public was welcome to use his expertise for whatever painting they needed, be it a portrait of a family member or of themselves.
Some of his paintings can be accessed on his Facebook page, Pemba Art and Signs, or his personal account as Pemba Given.
Pemba can also be reached on his cellphone on 072 183 2922 or 079 124 1413.
He said his paintings had a lifespan of 100 years without fading.