About us

The Arts & Ubuntu Trust is a Non Profit Trust registered in 2005.

The Trust is based in Cape Town, South Africa and works nationally and internationally to honour, gather, promote and present knowledge about African art forms, inspired by the philosophy and aesthetic of the internationally acclaimed South African painter and sculptor, Ernest Mancoba (1904-2002).

Mancoba’s career traversed the 20th century, from his first sculpture, ‘The African Madonna’ in 1929 to his last works on paper in the 1990s. He worked figuratively and abstractly and seamlessly integrated western and African traditions in art in innovative ways which prefigured movements in the history of modern art.

His work was imbued with knowledge and spiritual values gleaned from his African childhood and youth, in particular the proverb: umuntu ngumuntu ngabanye abantu (a person is a person by and because of other people.

This legacy continues through the Trust’s educational programmes, materials’ research and production, and through exhibitions of Mancoba’s work and that of other South African artists who are inspired by African aesthetics, principles and the spirit of Ubuntu.


  • To be true to Ernest Mancoba’s values in researching and producing materials which illuminate his philosophy, aesthetic and legacy
  • To exhibit the paintings and sculptures of Ernest Mancoba and other African artists
  • To conduct educational programmes such as workshops, seminars, lectures and conferences on these themes
  • To establish a scholarship fund in the name of Ernest Mancoba


In fulfilling these objectives it is our aim:

  • To work within the framework of advice provided by artists from around the country to ensure that new knowledge about Mancoba’s work in particular, and African art in general, is developed to enrich education in visual arts.
  • To research the neglected indigenous tradition in South African visual arts with a view to sharing this knowledge via products, exhibitions, master classes and the promotion of young artist’s work.
  • To present this knowledge in innovative and quality films, posters, catalogues and publications.
  • To share, knowledge and resources with artists, arts and culture teachers and youth who aspire to be artists through accessible educational programmes delivered in peri-urban and rural areas
  • To document the Trust’s exhibitions and educational work


To heed the advice of the Trust’s advisory group of artists to work according to the principle of Isivivane i.e. to leave a trace of what has been done.

To make accessible the skills, materials and knowledge developed in the course of the Trust’s work so that it can feed into the national arts discourse

To develop innovative visual art curriculums, materials and programmes, informed by indigenous aesthetics

To make deliberate and creative efforts to share curriculums and materials interactively with youth in under-resourced peri-urban and rural areas.

To this end to develop a Portfolio School and an Introduction to Art Toolkit.  The school will deepen the Trust’s outreach educational work by providing a specific qualification and the Kit will substantially widen the reach of the School

To ensure that participants in all the Trust’s programmes and users of the Trust’s resources   develop an appreciation of, and pride in South African cultural heritage, both traditional and modern, guided by the belief that

“We conserve what we love,
We love what we understand and
We understand what we are taught”

– Baba Dioum, Senegalese environmentalist


Fund-raising is a constant part of the Trust’s work. Donors are approached to support new projects.

Fortunately the Trust has gained credibility over the 10 years of its existence, and many donors are willing to re-invest. This means that with additional funding the foundations laid can be built upon, and the Trust can continue to spread knowledge of the hitherto neglected tradition (indigenous visual arts) and keep alive the relationships and networks built  through the it’s projects.

The information and materials gathered inform arts and culture policy and curriculums.

Participants continue to develop an appreciation of western and African art, artists and aesthetics from international traditions.

With cyber support of the Toolkit the programmes will be accessible to all arts and culture organisations and to individuals directly.

Supporters and partners

Numerous arts institutions nationally and internationally have supported the Trust’s work:

  • The first exhibition showed art to the value of R14 million loaned from galleries and private collections in South Africa and Europe
  • The University of West Indies invited the Trust to present an exhibition of Peter Clarke’s work in Barbados.
  • The Trust has productive working relationships with a number of institutions: University of Fort Hare and UNISA fine arts departments, Funda Community Arts College, Mmabana Centres in Mafikeng and Thaba Nchu, Gugulective, Durban Art Gallery, Polokwane Art Museum and other galleries, Galeshewe Community Art Centre in Kimberley, Battswood Art Centre in Grassy Park, Cape Town and other community art centres.
  • The Trust works with (and has worked with sometimes for as long as ten years) leading artist/teachers including: Charles Nkosi, the late Peter Clarke, Lionel Davis, Grace Tshikuvhe, Thami Jali, Musa Mncwabe, Amos Letsoalo, Pro Sobopha and others.
  • The Trust has participated in the South African Visual Art History conference (SAVAH) (2007) and the DAC Visual Arts Indaba (2012).
  • The Trust has been and is the beneficiary of grants from key arts funding organisations, including:
  • The Department of Arts and Culture
  • The NLDTF now known as the NLC or National Lotteries commission
  • The National Arts Council and others

Board of trustees

Zubeida Jaffer: chairperson, writer and journalist, currently writer-in-residence at the University of Free State
Nyanisile Jack: trustee, is a researcher and local development expert
Ben Mokoena: trustee, is an author, businessman and arts development expert
Bridget Thompson: executive trustee, is a filmmaker and educationalist
Vusi Mchunu: Writer, Arts manager, Curator