Thirty-two blank canvases lay on the floor. In less than two hours, they were filled with interesting artworks thanks to a group of boys and girls from disadvantaged communities in Africa, Asia, South America and Europe. The youths aged between 15 and 20 are part of a delegation that arrived in South Africa to participate in the two-week long Football for Hope Festival in Johannesburg.
Under the direction of renowned Brazilian pop culture artist Romero Britto, the youths participated in a painting workshop, which saw many expressing issues close to their heart namely, football and identity.
Seventeen year old Peter Kyalo and Richard Onyango from Kenya painted the Kenyan flag. Although some of the colors were not of the real flag, their point was clear. ‘You must remember where you come from wherever you are’ Kyalo said.
Kyalo and Onyango were among a delegation of youths from the Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) and Moving the Goal Posts in Kilifi. Raised by a single parent in Kariobangi, Kyalo never imagined he would be in South Africa at this time when football is in everyone’s lips.
The programme which is led by FIFA and street football world, uses football to tackle social issues such as homelessness, HIV/AIDs education among other things. ‘I am happy at the opportunity to come to South Africa and I have been able to make friends and learn lots of things’.
Twenty-year-old Ahasan Ansari from Magic Bus in India meticulously painted two happy soccer balls that represented his favorite teams Argentina and Germany. Coincidentally, both teams have qualified for this years FIFA 2010 World cup quarter final and they will be playing against each other on 3 July. His painting was inspired by the fact that football brings people from different nationalities together.
As Romero guided the participants through the process, he occasionally stopped to paint his artwork. His choice and use of colors gave his painting a sense of warmth which is a characteristic of his artworks. It is no wonder that his work is embraced by the international community and is featured in five continents and galleries worldwide.
This sculpture and painter created two commemorative stamp collections for the United Nations Postal Administration in honor of education and the Olympic Games in Beijing China.
In commemoration of King Tutanshanum’s exhibit in England, Britto was commissioned to paint the largest art installation in Hyde Park London. Britto was also one of the eleven international artists selected to create the FIFA 2010 Official Art Posters collection.
Apart from the art workshop, other groups participated in photography, coaching and youth forums. The Football for Hope festival will culminate in a football tournament from 4-10 July in Alexandra township in Johannesburg.