MURALS AS A POPULAR MEDIUM OF COMMUNICATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
The flourishing of community mural art in South Africa at the beginning of the 1990s was prompted directly by the demise of the apartheid regime. It was associated with -and spurred on- by the transformation of the socio-political landscape, the liberalization of race relations, the relaxation of city by-laws, and a widely-shared spirit of enthusiasm for the new ‘rainbow nation’. Today, roughly a decade later, the mural movement has virtually ceased to exist. It appears that many city officials and sponsors no longer think of murals as creative, vibrant expressions of a new African spirit, but rather as embarrassing, technically and stylistically primitive, low budget manifestations of an unwanted ‘Third World’ identity. Given the past enthusiasm with which artists, community activists, government departments and non-governmental organizations used to employ the mural medium for a variety of educational purposes and public awareness campaigns, one wonders why the phenomenon has proven to be so shortlived.