Life & Family

Ceaser was born in Durban in 1970, as a child of apartheid. He lived with his parents and siblings in KwaMashu until he was 14 years old, in a house allocated to his parents after they had been moved from the South of Durban during one of the infamous Group Areas Act forcible removals of the time. As Ceaser says, this was a time when families’ social life and cohesion were shattered and people scattered. ‘Everyone’s lives were upset, including my family.’


In many ways, Ceaser had a childhood typical of black children’s under apartheid. Like many other children, his childhood was split between living in the township with his parents, and living ‘in rural’. Life in KwaMashu was characterised by crime and violence, and when his older brother was stabbed to death when Ceaser was 14, his parents decided that it would be safer for Ceaser and his two remaining siblings to live with their paternal grandmother in rural Mandeni, further to the north. Six years later his family decided it was time for him to move back to KwaMashu.


Ceaser had a special talent as an artist, and that set him apart. People around him recognised this talent from an early age. When he lived in Mandeni, he started to do drawings on his school shirt. This was when the Mandeni community began to realise that Ceaser was an artist.


Ceaser’s mother was a hawker who went into Durban to sell clothes. Someone told her about the art classes organised by the African Art Centre in Durban. She told Ceaser and he attended these classes during school holidays, which he spent in KwaMashu. Both his grandmother and his mother were very supportive of his art.

The best moments in my life


Ceaser says that the best moments of his life are when he is with his three children, his son Nhlanhleni who is 17, and his daughters Zamambo and Nonhlanhla, working with them on animal sculptures and engaging them in discussions about different issues. ’Sometimes I just start an argument to teach them,’ he says.


Ceaser mentions that the children went with him and their mother to exhibitions from the time when they were small, and saw them working. ‘They became inspired and when we had big orders, they wanted to help.’ Now, all three of them work with him as artists and he loves that.

The greatest disappointment in Ceaser’s life


Ceaser is quick to declare that he loved ‘the mother of my children’ and that his greatest disappointment was when he lost her.

Copyright Ceaser Mkhize 2018

Photographs – Africa!Ignite, Sue Greenberg

Story - Wilna Botha