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Durant Basi Sihlali was born on 5 March 1935 in an industrial area, Germiston, Transvaal, now known as Gauteng Province. Due to harsh living conditions, his parents sent him to live with his paternal grandparents in a rural village called Cala in the Eastern Cape. The wall murals Xhosa women painted captivated Sihlali, who tried to imitate the designs but was chastised for engaging in what was considered a women’s job. He resorted to copying newspaper cartoons onto toilet rolls, the only paper available.



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