Joseph Manana was born in Escourt, KwaZulu-Natal. After their father’s death, Joseph and his siblings were raised by their mother. Times were very difficult for the family; they lived in poverty and ate from one bowl. Manana’s childhood taught him how to share, the value of family, and the importance of caring for others.
Joseph Manana started working as an artist in the mid-1980s and at that stage was largely self-taught.
Later in his career, Manama received an award from the Tita Zungu Trust Fund, which provides subsidies to South Africans wishing to study art. This enabled him to study for a diploma in Fine Arts at the Durban Institute of Technology which he successfully completed in 2003.
Manana’s work is characterised by bright colours, sensitive light, and strong lines. He draws his inspiration from the reality of the world around him, particularly from rural and township life. His subject matter often includes people engaging in everyday activities like playing music, dancing, or socialising. His work is full of fine detail which draws you in.
Manana is particularly interested in gender issues. He uses his art to show people how to take good care of women and children and that abuse is wrong.
He aims to inspire the younger generation through his art to reduce the gap between different cultures in South Africa, teaching mutual respect and tolerance.
Manana’s work is included in several South African museums and has been exhibited internationally.