Juma Mkwela- born in Malawi and raised in Zimbabwe- is an
artist with a big heart, bright smile and a passion for his various
communities. After fleeing political, social and economic turmoil,
Juma moved to South Africa in hopes of a better future. While in
South Africa, Juma became a victim of the xenphobic attacks that
swept through the townships across the country. When reflecting
on his experience, Juma recognized that many xenophobic actions
stem from a lack of education and understanding of other cultures.
Combining his love for art and craft, along with his new desire to
educate, Juma set out to share his own interests by teaching the
community through art leadership and development programs.
In 2009, Juma met the famous South African street artist, Freddy
Sam, who exposed him to the beautiful and powerful impact of
murals. The inspiration that stemmed from meeting Freddy, as
well as the growth in public interest for street art, prompted the birth of Juma Art Tours.
Juma believes in the potential and the positive impact that street art can have in the township communities, such as his own home in Khayelitsha. Street art allows artists to tell their story to a larger audience in a more permanent space. In addition, street art creates a beautiful space within the communities that makes residents eager to get their spaces painted as well.
The goal of Juma Art Tours is to create a positive and sustainable change. Juma promotes responsible tourism in which guests are able to make an impact while immersing in the culture they are visiting. Guests can choose to get involved in tours that allow them to get their hands dirty -whether it be through painting or gardening- and feel accomplished after their tour knowing that they left a permanent mark on the culture they engaged in. Today, Juma’s work in Khayelitsha has grown into a small team of six that promotes the township’s art scene even further and tries to create awareness and development opportunities for local artists. Overall, Juma connects the wealth of local artists who are eager to get their voices heard to the public, and brings the tourists from all over to listen to their stories being told.