(Rosalyn Sulcas’s article appeared in the New York Times, 4/19.)
Five years ago, Athol Fugard, the great chronicler of South Africa’s apartheid past and its post-apartheid present, heard a surprising tale. It was about a farm laborer named Nukain Mabuza, who had spent about 15 years, in the late 1960s and ’70s, painting vivid, highly patterned designs on the boulders and stones in arid terrain of the eastern province of Mpumalanga.
Mr. Mabuza’s name and work are largely unknown, even in South Africa, and Mr. Fugard, then living in San Diego, was intrigued, particularly since “The Road to Mecca,” his 1985 play, had taken another outsider artist, Helen Martins, as its subject. A little online research persuaded him that Mr. Mabuza was her equal. “Here was a man who unquestionably had an individual vision, who spent decades of his life creating this incredible mountain of stone flowers,” Mr. Fugard said.