The name Uncle Donze has in latter times been on the route to become a household name in the fine arts arena with the tag ‘the best pencil artist’ for his magnificent drawing prowess. The young man behind the drawings is 19-year-old self-taught Mphohlela Ralethoko, born and bred in the dusty village of Koalabata in the eastern outskirts of the capital Maseru.
The youngest of four children who is also a student of the Lerotholi Polytechnic said he has set his eyes on being an artist of international acclaim to prove that indeed great things can come out of Lesotho hence hi graft does not only end with making portraits of local, but also international influential personnel.
“The reason I mostly draw International artists is because I am aiming to become an international pencil artist,” Uncle Donze said.
“Being internationally known brings good reputation and a profile to my business and art. At the same time, it means I will easily be getting attention from international galleries,” he added.
Uncle Donze attributes his ability to draw to his older brother and later on his grade 8 classmate and friend, hence he decided he wanted to be equally good.
“Although, I don’t have a specific time of when I realized I could draw, I just remember I started drawing since I was in grade 3 (2010), by then I used to copy my older brother’s drawings while also attempting to draw cartoons like DragonBall z.
“Then when I was in grade 8, I met a friend at school who knew how to draw better than me so I would ask for some of his drawings to copy.
“Later on in 2019 I began watching YouTube tutorials on how to draw,” said Uncle Donze, adding that it was only in 2020 during Covid-19 induced lockdown that he had thought of taking his talent to the next level.
He mentioned not knowing how big he would be in such a short time saying the one thing he wanted when he started was be good at what he does not aware that it would catch the attention of so many people.
Amongst some of the people Uncle Donze has made portraits of is the business mogul, Sam Matatekane and entertainer Mavele. The international personnel he made portrait drawing of is Mr Jazzi Q while the first non-famous person he drew was his mother.
“I never thought I would be a big artist because initial all I wanted was to gain the ability to draw and be good at it
For his portraits, Uncle Donze uses a mixture of both charcoal and graphite pencils, a blending stump, eraser and a mono eraser, makeup brushes and charcoal powder.
He says his bigger goal is to some day host art exhibitions in and outside Lesotho.