Cartoonist with disability makes his mark
He cuts a lonely figure as he walks around Gaborone malls shopping for a computer so he can operate his business from home. Lesole Ntshole is no ordinary person; he has been living with disability caused by a rare bone disease known as Contracture for the past nine years,but that hasn’t kept him down.
The popular cartoonist behind Tsinnono cartoons opens up to The Voice about his past as a prison warder and the challenges that he has had to face after being diagnosed with the debilitating bone disease. Explaining how the disease drastically altered his life the 36- year-old Mochudi man said: “I haven’t had a girlfriend for the past ten years so let me take this opportunity to appeal to responsible and serious women who might be interested to approach me as it could be my turning point in life.”
Explaining why he left the Prison Department, where he was employed for seven years, Ntshole said that he did not see that career path as part of his destiny. “ There was nothing I learned from being a prison warder except how to keep an eye on convicts on a daily basis, so although I desperately needed the money, after serious thought I called it a day at the prisons and following my heart I enrolled at Penn Foster Career School, Pennsylvania in United States of America as a distance learning student pursuing a Diploma in Art, which I excelled at and enjoyed.
About his disability, Ntshole said that it was something unique to him in their family. “I am the only one who suffers from this condition, I don’t feel any pain from it but doctors told me that some of my bones have joined each other where they were not supposed to and therefore I needed corrective operation.” After he was briefed on how his leg was going to function after the recommended operation, Ntshole said that he decided against undertaking it because it did not sound like it was worth it.
“Although I walk with the support of two crutches I have gracefully accepted my status and feel welcome in the community as I normally don’t experience any discrimination as I go about my life,”said the man whose most sought after cartoon so far has been the one which depicted Member of Parliament for Shoshong, Phillip Makgalemele after he had defected from the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) to the Botswana Movement for Democracy.
“Before he retraced his steps back to the BDP, I depicted him in between the leaders of both parties looking confused on which one to go with, Within a week after my cartoon was published he was back to the BDP and I received many congratulatory messages from those who follow my work which made me feel recognised and honoured. ”
Lamenting Batswana’s lack of appreciation for art, Ntshole said that at times it is disheartening that many would prefer to buy their work especially paintings at ridiculously low prices unlike foreigners who understood and appreciated art. “We spend money to buy materials for our projects, so how can we be expected to sell our finished products for less than what we spent on creating them? He asked.
Ntshole who is the process of organising an exhibition locally early next year before taking his work to South Africa cited lack of galleries for artists to showcase their work as yet another factor hindering the progress of local art. “My life is riddled with challenges and disappointments especially where publishers who often shun my work are involved, but I will use any opportunity that comes my way to do the best.” Ntshole concludes almost in defiance