Visual artist and painter Bongi Bengu was born in Eshowe, KwaZulu-Natal. She received her BA (Fine Arts) (cum laude) from Mount Vernon College, Washington DC, USA in 1993 and in 1997, her Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Cape Town. Bengu lives and works in Johannesburg.
Bengu's work, Boiling Point, features jazz musicians: Dolly Rathebe; Dorothy Masuku; Kippy Moeketsi and beauty queen, singer and actress Hazel Futa. Using African-Americans as role models, blacks adopted Western practices in order to claim equality with whites in the 1950s.
For the first time there were so-called 'beauty queens' and beauty contests. The beauty of the era cannot be more aptly described than with the photograph of singer Miriam Makeba rehearsing in her studio, her full skirt swirling and her face jubilant.