A look at the personal narrative in Lucas Sithole’s sculpture
In seeking to provide an archive that reflects the works of Black South Africans, our eyes fell upon Lucas Sithole’s sculptures. Sithole signed his artworks with name that began with the letter T, although his elders named him Ncane, the Zulu word for small. He was born on 15 November 1931. His upbringing permitted him more than one lens to view our stories from the African land. In addition, Sithole’s childhood days lie in Springs, Swaziland and on the pavements of Motsugi street in Kwa-Thema. Sithole rose from being one of eight brothers, to being an artist everyone applauded in a room full of artists. Every single work of his deserves all the recognition and acknowledgement. Hence, even after his absence from this Earth, we celebrate his work.
Sithole gave himself to the art space and in doing so, gave us artworks that have poured something into who we are. In the pages of his personal diary, Sithole wrote something that reflects that he expressed himself by sharing with the world artistically. This reflection is found in the words: ‘These troubles I have had – I love them very much for they have contributed to what I am to-day, and they can also be seen in my work.’
The story of a system that left many fatherless in our eyes
This piece takes a look at Sithole’s sculpture that is a personal narrative. Made from bronze and stone as well as other media, his sculptures were narratives of people whose stories he expressed on their behalf.
In our eyes, his 1983 sculpture, Don’t worry, your father will come!, tells the story of many children in our African communities during the Apartheid era. In the dawn of segregation in our country, the migrant labour system robbed many homes of fathers. Children were left at home alone to be raised by their mothers or a mother figure. Additionally, the tales of growing up having no memories with your father [were] shared by many.
Since segregation led to Apartheid, the effects of an exploitative and oppressive system were still felt by many homes decades after. Fathers had to leave the home to work. Some fathers were jailed. Other fathers were exiled and could only imagine teaching children about where they come from. There were fathers who had no choice but to flee. Apartheid and its legacies left many children fatherless and put mothers in difficult positions. In other words, mothers were left to comfort their children, alone as a result of the pain caused by oppression. Sithole’s work is an exploration of this. It uncovers the stories we have heard many children tell about their homes.
In addition, the wailing child portrayed in the work examines the effects that oppression had on children’s well-being. Sithole’s artwork with its focal point on the wailing child is a symbol of the emotional trauma of the children who cried for the return of their fathers.
What is your interpretation of the narrative of Don’t worry, your father will come!?
This artwork is one the artworks in Aspire’s upcoming auction held in Paris. Read the full article here: http://sacreativenetwork.co.za/2021/05/aspire-auction-that-takes-africa-to-paris-in-june-2021/
*all information on Sithole’s background and biography is sourced from: https://www.sithole.com/