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23 October 2022


Opportunity Description


Every person’s identity is deeply shaped by their sense of belonging and place, for some people, this is defined by where they are legally recognised, for many, their sense of belonging is uncertain or unrecognised by the state within which they reside.

While the exact number of people affected by statelessness in Southern Africa is unknown it is a preventable and growing phenomenon affecting the region and globe. Nationality and its deprivation in Southern Africa have been shaped by colonialism and apartheid, border changes, poor civil registration systems, discrimination on grounds of class and race, migration, and gaps and conflicts within nationality law. This has left an increasing number of people with precarious nationality status and a sense of belonging. And given our colonial and racist past, race, class, and gender define who has been affected disproportionality.  

The effects of statelessness on individuals who are stateless or at risk of becoming stateless are compounding and often life-long. Statelessness impacts a person’s ability to access social services, including education, health, and social protection, they often struggle to open bank accounts, find stable employment, and access tertiary education.

The Southern African Nationality Network (SANN), in partnership with the UNHCR Regional Bureau for Southern Africa (RBSA), is launching a visual art competition as part of the #IBelong Campaign. The purpose of the competition is to spotlight statelessness as a preventable challenge in the region, and bring awareness and solidarity to those who are stateless or at risk of statelessness.

Theme: The theme for this art competition is Insider | Outsider.

 A key dilemma in the idea and practice of citizenship is the way in which citizenship, as a relationship between the state and the individual, it is in reality a relationship between the state and groupings representing particularistic identities. These relationships were constructed via the exercise of state power by colonial authorities, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which sought to impose a centralising authority on otherwise multicultural, multi-religious, and multi-ethnic societies with dispersed authority structures regulating relations between groupings and has led to the question we have all been asked: ‘where are you from?’. The answer to this question is not static we are connected to places and spaces beyond where we are born. In a single place or space, we can be the insider and the outsider, all seeking a similar sense of belonging.

 In light of the above, the project partners invite submissions from young visual artists based in Southern Africa whose work grapples with themes of nationality, identity, place-making, migration, and belonging.

How to Apply

Eligibility Criteria:


This competition is open to young artists aged 15-30  from Southern Africa.

If an applicant is under the age of 18 a consent form signed by the child’s parents, guardian or caregiver must be submitted upon application. This consent form can be downloaded here.


We strongly encourage, but are not limited to, applications from artists who self-identify as being from migrant or refugee backgrounds and, or as being stateless or at risk of statelessness.

 Artwork submissions

  1. Artworks must engage with themes of nationality, statelessness, identity, place-making migration, and/or belonging. Artworks can be submitted in the form of a print, painting, sketch, or drawing. For submission purposes,  high-resolution electronic copies of the artwork must be submitted to the online application form.
  2. Submissions must include a biography of the artist including a description of one’s background (place of birth, country of residence, documentation status, etc) (max 200 words).  Artworks should be submitted with a narrative or artwork statement  and must include the relevance of the submission to the theme and challenges relating to nationality and statelessness (max 400 words).

 Selection criteria:

The competition has two phases following the submission of applications. In phase one all the submissions will be uploaded on a digital platform for the public to vote for their preferred submission.  The top five most voted for submissions will move into phase two of the competition.

 In phase two of the competition, a panel of five people will decide on the top three submissions based on the following criteria:

  • Quality of depiction – if the imagery is clear and legible: 5
  • Theme relevance – if imagery has relevance to the theme: 20
  • Narrative/statement  of artwork – if statement accurately explains the imagery: 5
  • Artistic Skill- overall aesthetic quality or visual effectiveness of imagery: 10:
  • Originality – if it shows creativity and uniqueness and the ability to engage in complex themes: 10
  • Total: 50

Prizes include:

  • Certificates of participation for all participants
  • Cash prizes for top 3 winning artwork (1st prize R20 000, 2nd prize R16 000, 3rd prize R12 000)
  • Animation of top 3 winning artwork
  • Promotion and exposure of top 3 winning artists and artworks on SANN, UNHCR, and project partners social media platforms
  • Selected artists will be asked to provide a high-resolution photo of themselves and may be asked for additional information for promotional purposes.

Copyright and usage

By submitting an application you consent to the Southern African Nationality Network (SANN), Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), and UNHCR to use the information, documents, and artworks for the purpose of publicising the competition and awards, the online voting phase and other awareness-raising activities. Intellectual property and usage rights otherwise remain with the artist.  

Timeline for competition:

Submissions Open: 26 September 2022

Submission Close: 23 October 2022

Online Public Votes Open: 24 October 2022

Online Public Votes Close: 28 October 2022

Panel Voting: 2-4 November 2022

Winners Announced: 7 November 2022

Prize Giving Event:  25 November 2022 (TBC)

If you would like any additional information or have questions about the art competition please contact sannartcompetition@gmail.com

Online application form can be accessed here