George Milwa Mnyaluza Pemba (South African 1912 – 2001) Street Scene, signed and dated 65, oil on canvas laid down on board, 35,5 by 45,5cm; 46 by 56 by 4cm including frame. Est: R200 000 – R300 000

South Africa boasts a rich and diverse cultural heritage, and this richness extends to its artistic contributions. Many remarkable artists have captured the essence of the country’s struggles and triumphs through their art. Among these luminaries stands George Pemba, a distinguished artist whose work has left a mark on the nation’s artistic landscape. Pemba’s work goes beyond aesthetics; it is a powerful form of social commentary and advocacy. Pemba’s life and artistic journey offer a poignant reflection of South Africa’s past and a glimpse into its future.

Growing up in a time when the racial segregation policy of apartheid was taking root, Pemba’s experiences as a young black artist would shape his creative perspective and the themes that would permeate his work throughout his career. Living during a tumultuous period in South African history, he used his art to shed light on the harsh realities of apartheid and the struggles of black South Africans. His paintings reflected the society he lived in, depicting both the joy and suffering experienced by his people. His art served as a mirror to the world around him, and he used his talent to convey the everyday experiences and struggles of South Africa’s black population during  South Africa’s suppressive era.

Pemba’s ability to capture the human form with such precision allowed him to convey emotions, history, and the essence of his subjects in a deeply evocative manner. Pemba had a keen eye for capturing the nuances of human expression and sentiment, and his paintings are noted for their empathy and humanity. One of Pemba’s most significant contributions was his ability to humanize his subjects, giving a voice and dignity to those who were often marginalized and dehumanized by cruel nationalist policies.

One of Pemba’s recurring themes was the depiction of rural life in South Africa. His paintings often showcased scenes of farm labour, family gatherings, and traditional ceremonies. Pemba’s social commentary also extended beyond rural life to include the urban black experience. His art frequently highlighted the challenges faced by black South Africans in cities, where they encountered discrimination and segregation. His works captured moments of quiet strength, resilience, and unity, emphasizing the importance of community and solidarity.

Through his art, Pemba challenged the status quo and called attention to the injustices of his time. His work served as a catalyst for important conversations about race, identity, and equality in South Africa. The importance of Pemba’s work in South African art history extends far beyond the boundaries of time. His personal artistic style remains relevant in contemporary South Africa and the broader global context for several reasons. First and foremost, Pemba’s commitment to social justice and his unflinching portrayal of the human condition always resonated with art lovers. His paintings serve as a reminder of the struggles faced by marginalized communities and the importance of using art as a tool for social change and encouragement of all people.

George Milwa Mnyaluza Pemba (South African 1912 – 2001) Portrait Of Mrs. Maud Zibi, titled, signed and dated July 1982 in ink, ink on paper, 35,5 by 29cm; 40 by 33 by 1,5cm including frame. Est: R14 000 – R16 000 – Hammer: R13 530

Additionally, Pemba’s work is a source of inspiration for emerging artists, particularly those from historically disadvantaged backgrounds. His journey from humble beginnings to international recognition serves as a beacon of hope and a testament to the transformative power of art. George Pemba’s significance in South African art history is undeniable. His art transcends the canvas, serving as a powerful vehicle for inspiration and storytelling. Through his realistic portrayals of everyday life and his unyielding commitment to justice, Pemba left an indelible mark on the art world and the broader struggle for equality in South Africa.

As we celebrate the legacy of George Pemba, we must recognize that his work is not merely a reflection of the past; it is a timeless testament to the enduring power of art to illuminate the human experience and provoke meaningful change. His legacy continues to inspire and challenge us to confront the injustices of our world and strive for a more equitable future. George Pemba’s art lives on as a reminder that art has the power to transcend barriers and speak to the hearts and minds of people across generations and cultures.

Stephan Welz & Co. is proud to have offered notable works by this prestigious artist in the past and look forward to offering Street Scene on our penultimate sale of the year. We encourage clients to diarise the dates for our upcoming premium auction in Cape Town on 17-19 October, followed by our premium auction in Johannesburg on 21-23 November. To view the available lots, visit where one can register and also bid. For any queries, contact us on 011 880 3125 or at

Written by Alexia Ferreira

George Milwa Mnyaluza Pemba (South African 1912 – 2001) West End, signed and dated ‘53, oil on board, 24 by 34cm; 54 by 44cm, including frame. Est: R200 000 – R250 000


George Milwa Mnyaluza Pemba (South African 1912 – 2001) Grace Msimang, titled, signed and dated Dec. 1981 in ink, ink on paper, 28,5 by 24cm; 32,5 by 28 by 1,5cm including frame. Est: R11 000 – R14 000 – Hammer: R13 530

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!