Drawing inspiration from his birth date which also happens to coincide with Youth Day in his home country of South Africa, 19 year old artist and illustrator, Keneilwe Kwanaite created a project titled ICONS.  The Johannesburg based creator is keen on shining the spotlight on popular figures across the world who fought for freedom.

“I had recently watched the movies Sarafina and The Long Walk to Freedom, which made me think a lot about what our lifestyles would be like if these respectable leaders who fought for freedom had just sat down and done nothing.”

In this project, Keneilwe celebrates 5 important world icons that played a huge role in the fight against slavery, racial inequality and independence. These icons are Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Malcolm X, Maya Angelou, and Martin Luther Jr.

“I tried to make the portraits stand out with a faint golden colour. I feel like the hardest decision I had to make was choosing who to illustrate because there are so many amazing people out there who fight against patriarchy and racial inequality.”


 Maya Angelou


Martin Luther King JR.


 Nelson Mandela


Mahatma Gandhi


Malcolm X


To see more of Keneilwe’s work, check out his Instagram page.