Mandla Nkosi was born on 13 June 1962 in Pimville, Soweto, the third child of Joyce Nkosi. In 1981 he completed Standard Nine at the Sekano Ntoane School in Soweto. He then studied at the Mofolo Arts Centre Soweto from 1982 to 1983 under Cyril Manganye. In 1983 Nkosi won an OK Bazaars bursary and enrolled for the Bonono Art Course at the Funda Centre in Soweto. In 1984 he joined the Funda Foundation as an employee and worked there for three years.
His art has been shown in more than twelve exhibitions from 1984 to 1988. The two major ones were ‘Historical perspectives of Black art in South Africa’ and ‘Eleven contemporary Black South African Artists’. Better known works of his include Cry the beloved country, Goodbye Hector, The death of Hector Peterson and Dream. He was commissioned to paint a double portrait of an American art critic and his wife during one of the Thupelo Workshops. In 1986 he won a merit award at the annual ‘Impressions’ competition, held by the Rolfes Foundation for Student Art. He was influenced by the work of Afro-American painter Romare Bearden with whose social themes of realism and ethnic consciousness in Harlem, USA, he identified. He portrayed the township in large collages of charcoal and pencil drawings.
On 26 June 1987 Nkosi jumped to his death on the Magaliesberg Mountains, north west of Johannesburg and Tshwane (Pretoria).
1984 - Johannesburg
1986 - Pretoria
1986 - Johannesburg & Pretoria
1987 - Botswana, Durban Johannesburg & Paris
1988 - Cape Town