Arts and culture Community Health

COVID-19: UNESCO Offers ResiliArt Illustration Contest


At least thirty emerging and established creatives are in the running for UNESCO’s ResiliArt Illustration Contest prizes. Worth a whopping USD$1700, the prizes are spread across four categories- including an Audience Appreciation Award.

Open to talent from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the contest is a part of UNESCO’s global initiative directed towards sharing artistic perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on the creative sector.

Set to close for entries this Sunday 31 May 2020 (11:59pm), the contest is a display of emotive illustrations presented in both traditional and modern forms by young people between the ages of 16 and 25 years old.

The entries admitted into the contest, this far, individually share varying perspectives of society’s role in preparing for a post-COVID-19 environment by visualising different themes including inspiration, identity, disassociation, isolation, death, mental health and apathy. The most common material used in developing the illustrations have been acrylic paint, charcoal and markers. This week, the platform received an increase in modern illustrations created using digital software such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Medibang Paint, Krita and Sketchbook Pro, to name a few.

Despite impacting on the financial stability of the creative sector, the ongoing national lockdowns in the region due to the Coronavirus have proved to be a source of inspired thought and thought provoking illustrations. Highly representative of the potential of African talent to communicate and solve the continent’s problems, the illustrations will be judged by a Panel of Creatives who are established illustrators and graphic designers able to critically review the entries.

The Panel of Creatives consists of the following talent: Claire Dongo, Eugene Mapondera, Akulu Lipenga, Lucky Sithole, Tash Dowell and Charles Jijita. Combined, the panellists represent traditional and digital illustrators and will be tasked with selecting the top ten entries. The panellists will be guided by the following criteria: the illustration’s originality, its creativity, the rationale’s relevance to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and the level of skill shown. The top 3 entries scoring the highest marks will be issued with the following prizes in ascending order USD$400 (3^rd Prize), USD$450 (2^nd Prize), and the highest point scorer receiving USD$550.

The winner of the #ResiliArt Audience Award, the fourth prize worth USD$300, will be selected through a public vote opening from the 1^st – 7th of June 2020 (midnight) on the UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa Facebook page.

In an interview with Mrs. Courteney Mantiziba, Co-Founder of the BLAZER, she said, “We are grateful to UNESCO for considering us as a partner to deliver the ResiliArt Illustration Contest. This is our second offering of the year, preceded by a writing challenge under the Arete Campaign. Both opportunities showcase our future generation’s awareness of the continent’s difficulties and that their respective perspectives are key to developing solutions for the future”.

Current submissions to the contest may be accessed here: and all contest winners will be announced on Monday 08 June 2020, on the UNESCO ROSA digital platforms.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende