Illustrator, developer, and designer Luthando Mfabe draws inspiration from African history to create vibrant and unique Afrofuturistic art. Based in Johannesburg, Mfabe found motivation to do design work he enjoys after being attacked and stabbed while walking home in 2016. He says, “While I was healing, I started illustrating to relieve myself of the pain I was going through physically and emotionally.”
Through his company, War Innovations, Mfabe wishes to solve social issues, and by using many traditional garments of various African tribes, he hopes to make people curious so that they will learn about Africa. As he tells between 10 and 5, “The aim is to export African culture to the rest of the world and compete on the world state and at the same time, empower African artists.”
His work is grounded in African culture from the face masks to the body paint, specific to the Dogon tribe of Mali. He contrasts his historical subjects with modern features like polka dots and modern dress. He draws great inspiration from his past and his in-depth research of the successes of precolonial Africa and tries to embody that history with modern art.
While his work is inspired by Afrofuturism, and addressed as such by some, he refers to his work as Afrorealist. He feels that Afrofuturism seems like the African people are running from current problems in hopes of a better tomorrow, while Afrorealism seems like Africans are facing today’s issues head-on to make that better tomorrow.