Themba Siwela was born in the 1970's in a humble village north of Durban called Kwa Mashu. He left school early to earn his keep, gathering his pencils, paints and sketchpads and making for the city, where he found work as a sign writer, portrait artist and painter before joining Andy Mason's Artworks Publishing company where he did agency work and illustrated for a number of NGO's in the early 2000's.

It was about that time when Themba started cartooning; mentored by Mason and Nanda Soobben under the umbrella of the 'Durban Cartoon Project' which the two had founded. Themba was to become one of the many up and coming new wave black talents to be nurtured by the Project's founders.

Themba created a popular strip for Bona magazine called 'Majimbos' and became a regular contributor for Mason's underground Mamba Comix. In recognition of his work, Themba was invited to attend Fummetto Comics Festival in Switzerland, and in 2004 he was selected to participate in a British Council-sponsored skills exchange tour to meet the great editorial cartoonists in London, under the mentorship of Steve Bell (cartoonist, The Guardian) and Jonathan Shapiro (Zapiro). This opportunity introduced Themba to the discipline of political cartooning, and his work has been published in The Mercury and Sowetan newspapers.

Themba's meticulous drawing style - clean lines, bright colours and impressive caricature - was at first heavily influenced by that of Sifiso Yalo, a friend and another product of the 'Durban Comic Circle'.

Over the years he has developed his own unique style, introducing stylised cross hatching and deft penmanship instead of the photoshopped colours and tones that he first used.

Themba has participated in a number of exhibitions alongside such greats as Zapiro, Len Sack, Derek Bauer, Nanda Soobben, Sifiso Yelo and others. He has also conducted his own series of cartoon workshops nationally, and has won numerous prizes for his fine art.

In 2011 Themba moved to Johannesburg to take up the vacated cartoonist's seat for The Citizen, where he continues to provide the daily cartoon. In 2009 his work was published in 'Don't Joke!', and in 2010 in 'Just for Kicks!', featuring the best editorial cartoons of those years.

Cartoons by Siwela

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