Defying the odds through tattooing passion


Deep within parts of South Africa lies a young entrepreneur who defied the odds and his belief. Kevin Thabo Mbhombi who is considered the youngest business owner in his community in Doornkop has his own Tattoo studio and is a DJ.

Being a Christian and a tattoo artist are said to not align as many Christians refer to the Hebrew prohibition when questioned. Having to choose between your religious belief and your daily bread would get one baffled, however Thabo made the two work even though he had never intended on being a tattoo artist because of church. “Yes I had to leave church as I was being judged but that did not alter nor shift my belief” he says.

Thabo’s passion for inking people started in 2018 when he was still using his home made tattoo machine and testing his skills on his friends. He also mentioned that this passion of his has had him facing a lot of altercations with his family since they did not approve of his choice in line of work, however they are now his biggest and strongest support structure.

He decided to make his business known to the world in 2019 when he established Thabo Raw Inks, which gave him a wider range of clients coming from most parts of Johannesburg.

Thabo Mbhombi with a client

With so much that he has achieved in a short space of time, when asked about his lowest point was while following his passion: “This was after a house call I had in Emndeni which happens to be one of the dangerous neighborhoods in Soweto, I got mugged and stabbed. Them taking my bag which had all of my kit felt like they were taking a huge piece of me with them. Having to start from scratch was when I was at my lowest”.

Thabo mentions that a majority of people who have mental health issues usually resort to self-harm rather than talking to a professional or anyone they trust. With being a tattoo artist he gets to lend an ear and have a therapy session with his troubled clients through pain that turns into art on their skin.

By Lineo Khabele