JOHANNESBURG – What does art have to do with our society?
Can art create social change?
Eyewitness News caught up with Tshepiso Makoni and Tebogo Losaba, the founders of Teboxemeka, who hope to impact the taxi industry and show their appreciation for it with their art.
“Our brand is about expanding art and storytelling through fashion, design, furniture,” said Makoni.
They told Eyewitness News that they hoped to make an impact in the taxi industry with their art.
“Change is a big word for us, but an impact is what we want to do, we are hoping to tap into the industry from a point of educating not only the drivers but the commuters as well. We would love to have a transportation system with various activities and equal privilege for every commuter or the driver. We are hoping to have our brand as a voice concerning all the issues faced by both commuters and drivers and find solutions that can work for the social and economical aspects of the township,” said Makoni.
According to FutureGrowth Asset Management in normal circumstances, the South African minibus taxi industry undertakes some 15 million commuter trips per day, transporting roughly 68% of the country’s households to and from work and school each day.
The industry is also a much-needed feeder into other transport modes such as bus and rail, giving it a firm grip on its substantial share of the public transport market.
“Our brand is a local brand, we produce local T-shirts that have high-end graphic prints that tell stories about everyday life, society, and economic challenges faced by our people. Our Taxiology collection is about taxis, not just taxis but how they have an impact on the social and economics of everyday life,” said Losaba.
What does art have to do with our society? Well art is a form of communication that allows people from different cultures, and times to communicate through images, sounds and stories. Art has often been a vehicle for social change, giving a voice to the politically or socially disenfranchised. Something like a song, film or novel can arouse emotions inspiring those who encounter it to rally for change.
Makoni and Losaba recently partnered with Enabled Enlightenment, a disability NGO that tackles a lot of issues that affect disabled people, including access to public transport.
“We partnered with them mainly because it's the only way we can hear more stories expressed. We needed to hear a voice from experience and learn more about the challenges that enabled enlightenment may have experienced, as well as how can we, as a brand, show support in the future by being one voice with Enabled Enlightenment.”
The taxi industry ensures that South Africans, including the vast majority of the country’s workforce, get to and from their destinations, children get to and from school every day and adults are able to get to work so that they can provide for their families.
“We are inspired by their commitment towards the transport access from the early hours till late, although the accessibility is very limited, we believe more can be done,” said Makoni
Artists may not have a clearly defined duty or responsibility to impact the world but they do in different ways and the school teacher, photographer Tebogo Losaba and his partner Tshepiso Makoni, who is a graphic designer and filmmaker, hope that their work will not only tell the story of the taxi industry but encourage positive change within it as well.
“We can’t change people but we can absolutely help them by showing them that their work is recognised, it's appreciated by the masses and the brand, we are eager to show people that not all drivers or the industry is bad but some are very hands-on when coming to help the community, and we can help the industry by showing people that we truly need the drivers,” said Losaba.