Gweru's Mushipe eyes Nama treble

GWERU - Gweru-based sculptor Forbes Mushipe is confident that he will win a third consecutive National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) gong on Saturday and cement his position as Zimbabwe’s leading mixed media work artist.

Mushipe’s artistic creation called Nhapwasikana, that captures the struggles of the girl-child in a male-dominated world, has put the Gweru artist into a great position to achieve unprecedented Nama glory.

“The girl-child is treated like a slave,” Mushipe told the Daily News yesterday.

“I created this piece to reflect the fact that the girl-child is vulnerable because men use money and expensive gadgets to ensnare her.

“I am campaigning for the security of the girl-child and women in general.”

The serial Nama winner is disappointed by the fact that today’s Church has become a perpetrator of violence on the girl-child.

“Most people expect the Church to intervene spiritually, but some clergymen have inverted the matrix, leaving the girl-child vulnerable.”

According to Mushipe, Nhapwasikana is meant to illustrate the vulnerability of the girl-child.

“Running away from a forced marriage, she falls into the tentacles of the devious human traffickers who send her to a faraway land with promise of freedom and bountiful joy.

“She is forced into prostitution, where she is drained of her morality before being pushed into slavery where only drug addiction is rampant.

“Because of this vicious circle the world continually loses mothers.”

The sculptor’s winning of two back-to-back Namas has made him a household name in Zimbabwe.

In the 11th Nama, Mushipe’s piece called Barika was adjudged to be the best in a tightly-contested mixed media category that also featured Victor Nyakauru’s Gava Rakadambura Musungo and Dominic Benhura’s Nzou Samanyanga.

The outspoken visual artist’s piece called Melodies From the Mermaid Ahead won him his second consecutive Nama gong last year.

If Nhapwasikana beats Johnson Zuze’s Barking Dog and Antony Ngandu’s School Children in this year’s Nama on Saturday, it will make the Zimbabwe-born sculptor who grew up in neighbouring Zambia a true legend.

The award-winning artist who was inspired to take up visual arts by veteran artists such as Tafadzwa Gutsa, Voti Thebe and Rashid Jogee, launched his career while doing his Ordinary Level at Munali High School in the Zambian capital Lusaka.

Mushipe has participated in several exhibitions in Zimbabwe and neighbouring South Africa.

Some of his noteworthy exhibitions were at Zimbabwe Heritage in 2002 and Harare Biennial in 2004.

Several of his hand-made artworks are scattered across the world in permanent collections and private galleries.

The award-winning visual artist and sculptor has attributed the success he is getting to support from key people in Zimbabwe’s art sector.

“I attribute my success to the support I receive from such acclaimed artists as Tafadzwa Gutsa, Rashid Jogee, curator Raphael Chikukwa and the current director of Bulawayo Arts Gallery, Voti Thebe, who modelled me into what I am today,” said Mushipe.

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