The Initiation

Mogorosi Motshumi

Publication date: 2016

136 pages

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The First Graphic Autobiography by a Black South African – An Artist’s Struggle for Survival and Redemption

Set against the turbulent backdrop of a nation in transition, the first book of Motshumi’s autobiographic trilogy begins in Batho township, Bloemfontein, in the early ’60s, and runs through to the late 1970’s when he arrives in Johannesburg as a budding political cartoonist on the run from the security police.

It’s a unique and compelling document of township life at the height of apartheid, providing a first-hand glimpse into the rising political consciousness amongst black youth that culminated in the Soweto rebellion of 16 June 1976.

“Cartoonist, activist, skelm, jazz aficionado, father and lover: Motshumi’s harrowing self-portrait demonstrates not only how his life as an artist has been intertwined with the social and political realities of his time and place, but also how art can turn tragedy into triumph of the human spirit.” (From the introduction)

While the last two decades have seen the emergence of several significant black political cartoonists and comic artists, Mogorosi Motshumi is the first black South African comic artist to produce a long-form graphic autobiography. At more than 300 pages, 360 Degrees, to be released in three volumes, is one of the most substantial works of graphic literature to emerge from South Africa to date.

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