Teen black consciousness activist Zulaikha Patel puts SA on the NY street art map

2017-04-04 12:23 - Boipelo Mokgothu
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Cape Town- If there has been one significant artistic expression of protest, it would have to be street art or graffiti - where public walls have become the canvas of the rebels. 

Which makes the newly erected 12-metre-high mural of Zulaikha Patel on the street of Brooklyn, New York by artist Lexi Bella even more poignant.

Patel, the 13-year-old who caught the hearts of many South Africans late last year, when she stood up against hair discriminatory in Pretoria Girls High, acting as a millennial symbol of black consciousness, acting against white supremacy. 

The mural was created in February as it is Black History Month, which celebrates African-American History.  

SEE: A glimpse into Jozi's rising street art culture

Patel and a group of young girls refused to abide by the rules of not wearing their hair natural as it is deemed untidy. This became a fight against systematic racism and other pupils in different schools began to take part. The outcry resulted in Pretoria Girls and a few other schools changing their hair policies.

As we come to know, street art is a visual element where artists question or communicate with the public; it is also seen as more provocative art form

Now Patel finds herself as a symbol of struggle against systematic racism, not only in South Africa but globally. In an instagram post, Bella describes Patel as "an amazing young activist who gives me hope". 

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@zulaikha.patel.with.thee.afro my #ZulaikhaPatel still giving us hope on #Flushing @thebushwickcollective

A post shared by Lexi Bella (@lexibellaart) on

Last year, the 13 year old was included in the top 100 inspirational and influential women in the world among other South Africans such as Thuli Mandonsela. Patel also attended the memorial service of late struggle hero, Ahmed Kathrada, who passed away on 28 March.

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Zulaikha Patel art by South Africans