Going broke set me free

 

Goodwill Mokoka was broke. But what could have been a crisis point was a gift to the young artist. Having nothing meant that all he could do was create. Without traditional artistic resources, Mokoka began to piece together broken, discarded waste material. And by repurposing trash he gave purpose to his life.

His motivation was to help children. His desire was to develop affordable, relatable toys to rival big brand products and inspire fun in poor communities. Injected with the positivity of their adopted maker, the assemblages of apparently useless bits and pieces grew into unique characters. “Let’s make these things accessible to the kids who don’t have, and they will value it more than they will ever value that Barbie,” says Mokoka.

His innovation was first recognised in 2015, when he placed first at Startup Weekend Tshwane. The achievement earned him access to mentorship through the Maxum Business Incubator, which allowed him to refine his business model. This year Design Indaba honoured Mokoka’s environmentally-friendly and locally-driven approach to children’s play by naming him an Emerging Creative. The accolade is testament to hard work, but Mokoka’s message to South Africans is to find validation within themselves before seeking the praise of others.