Benjamin Mzimkulu Macala, SA artist, is born


Macala’s art work 'Guitar player' Macala’s art work Guitar player Image Source:

Wednesday, 21 April 1937

Benjamin Mzimkulu (Ben) Macala was born in Bloemfontein, Orange Free State (now Free State). As a young boy he tended cattle on a farm in the Free State and drew on rocks with stones. He was largely self-taught, although he studied for a few months under Cecil Skotnes at Jubilee Art Centre in 1964. He was also guided by Ephraim Ngatane in the mid 1960s, and was a pupil of Bill Ainslie for a short time. He held thirteen exhibitions from 1967-1985 in South Africa, Europe and the US.

Macala’s chosen technique was pastel on paper, and his work has come to be recognized by this medium. He has used other media from time to time.  His subject matter of Picasso-like portraits with huge black eyes is easily identifiable in almost all his works.

Macala was also a practicing Sangoma (traditional healer).He died in 1997. 

• Sack, S. (1988). The Neglected Tradition, Johannesburg: Johannesburg Art Gallery.
• Soweto Fine Art, Ben Macala 1937 ”“ 1997, [online] Available at: [Accessed: 16 April 2014]

Last updated : 16-Apr-2014

This article was produced for South African History Online on 18-Apr-2012