During the Nelson Mandela’s centenary celebrations, many people came out with creative ways of commemorating the iconic global leader. One of these people is Lungelo Gumede, who displayed the life-like statues of Mandela to showcase his journey from a lawyer to a political prisoner to the first black president of South Africa.
Gumede, who hails from Durban, is a visual artist and wax sculptor who was inspired by Madam Tussauds, which he had visited while in New York back in 2012.
“It was me seeing and identifying the need for the wax museum after I went to New York and I visited [Madame Tussauds]. When I came back to South Africa, I saw the need to start the same thing,” the sculptor said.
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Gumede’s love for art started way back but his mother did not approve of it and hoped that her son would be a medical doctor instead. However, this did not stop Gumede from pursuing his passion. He started out painting portraits at the beachfront in Durban and at flea markets.
His big break came in 2008 when the municipality of eThekwini commissioned him to paint Forest Whitaker who was visiting the country days after winning an Oscar for his role in the movie The Last King of Scotland.
He then ventured into wax sculptures and it has changed his life. He not only was able to mingle with some of the South African and global celebrities, he has also been able to visit different countries to showcase his work.
— CNN Africa (@CNNAfrica) August 23, 2018
Gumede has since sculpted many other black heroes and leaders including South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, TV Icon Oprah Winfrey and legendary musician Michael Jackson.
According to him, he gathers as many photos of his subjects as possible to be able to get the right outcome. For subjects that are alive, Gumede prefers to take pictures and measurements.
Some of his goals include presenting Winfrey and John Legend with their wax figures and creating a wax figure of former U.S President Barack Obama.
As a young black South African Artist, I am very excited to hear about the visit of former US President, Mr @BarackObama to South Africa. As I create the very first African version of Madame Tussaud, I hope to get the opportunity to present my work to him. @ObamaFoundation pic.twitter.com/450y29E142
— Lungelo Wax Museum (@LungeloGumedeSA) April 23, 2018
Apart from the painting and wax figures, Gumede also works with bronze and has created the sculptures of Mandela and anti-apartheid activist Albertina Sisulu for their centenary.
— Lungelo Wax Museum (@LungeloGumedeSA) July 17, 2018
Here are some of Gumede’s wax figures.
— Lungelo Wax Museum (@LungeloGumedeSA) June 10, 2018
— Lungelo Wax Museum (@LungeloGumedeSA) May 26, 2018
Who misses uBaba? ?.
— Lungelo Wax Museum (@LungeloGumedeSA) May 24, 2018
Come on black twitter, let us welcome Michael Jackson ??. We have brought him back to life and invited him to SA??.
We are #LungeloWaxMuseum based in KZN, Durban, at the Bat Center.
— Lungelo Wax Museum (@LungeloGumedeSA) April 4, 2018
There’s no holiday at the museum. Bra Hugh Masikela meets Mshengu Shabalala of Black Mambazo.
We are #LungeloWaxMuseum.
RT for awareness. pic.twitter.com/8HCbDsPUdr
— Lungelo Wax Museum (@LungeloGumedeSA) March 30, 2018