Limpopo artist Mulalo Nego Negondeni creates replica of South African City out of recycled materials.

Mulalo Nego Negondeni’s story is one of inspiration. This 26-year old from Mukula Village in Limpopo used cement mixed with waste materials to build tiny models of some of his favourite buildings in Johannesburg. A project that started out as a hobby 12 years ago and got him noticed by an architectural firm in Pretoria.

“I grew up as any other kid, where I just spent most of my time playing soccer and also spending time alone. That’s when I started to discover that I had a few talents.”

Artist Mulalo Negondeni who created a replica of Johannesburg in his backyard.

Mulalo put this time alone, to use collecting waste around the village for his creative projects.

He shares that The City of Gold, with its iconic structures like The Soccer City Stadium, Nelson Mandela Bridge and Soweto Towers, was the inspiration for NegoCity. “For me, when I got a chance to visit Johannesburg, I was staying in a very fancy hotel. That hotel inspired me a lot. Wow! I had never seen something like it before. That’s why I wanted to create a similar thing when I got back home.”

The Johannesburg skyline.

Building NegoCity has changed Mulalo’s life. In 2017 he was invited along with his family to visit the stadium itself. His story also caught the eye of Themba Orvall Maluleke, the CEO of Orvall Corporate Designs architectural company, who landed up giving Mulalo his next big opportunity – mentorship from Themba and an internship from the company.

“It’s unbelievable his achievement, from when we met until now. He’s actually become one of our greatest designers in the office. When he’s engaging with his team, you can see his dedication and his commitment to his craft. To be able to achieve that in a short space of time, I think is amazing,” commends Themba Orvall.

Mulalo reflects on the impact the opportunity has had. “Moving to Pretoria, has changed my life in a very positive way. Since I’ve come here, I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve learnt to be very confident with myself, and also to pursue some of the things I’ve always wanted to do.”

We find out how Mulalo’s vision and dreams, which include one day building a museum to keep the legacy of 2010 alive and playing his part in exposing African talent to the world, aligns with that of The Insider SA.

What does ‘living better’ mean to you?

“Living better for me means living your life doing what you love every day, anytime and anywhere and achieving more from that. That’s what can make me live better, knowing that now I’m doing what I love – if it’s work, it’s work I love.”

What legacy would you like to leave behind?

“To be known as one of the greatest artists. To be the first person to ever build a soccer Museum in South Africa, and to make a huge change for other artists in the Country.”

What advice would you like to share with South Africa?

“I would like to give South African people a simple piece of advice. Do what you love. Focus on what you know. Work hard at what you are passionate about. Never stop dreaming, and never stop pushing hard because tomorrow is not promised to anyone.”

Where do you go to escape and connect with yourself?

“To the Union Buildings”

Do you have an encouraging quote to wrap up on?

“Yes! Work hard to build a strong legacy for your family and also for others – one that will inspire others, and build and motivate them.”