Citizenship 328 x 480, linocut
"No citizen may be deprived of citizenship" is an important clause in South Africa, where many people were previously denied citizenship. But to Azaria Mbatha citizenship means more than a passport. Citizenship is the formal acknowledgment of the fact that we are all one, that we are all connected to each other and to the land. We may deprive people of their citizenship if we exclude them from this global community by creating divisions and denying individuals their basic human rights. The artist's image is filled with symbolic representations of these human rights arranged in three registers around a larger central image that expresses the concept 'us versus the other'.
Graphic artist Azaria Mbatha was born in 1941 in rural Zululand. He received his training at the Lutheran Art and Craft Centre at Umpumulo in Natal and at Rorke's Drift. He then gained a two-year scholarship to the Konstfachskolan in Stockholm. Except for a brief sojourn in South Africa, he has been living in Sweden ever since. He also acquired a degree in History of Art and Social Sciences at the University of Lund. Azaria Mbatha has won several awards and participated in many exhibitions in Southern Africa and Europe. He was the first African graphic artist whose work was included in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.