Nama winner grooms street children

HARARE - Gweru-based treble National Arts Merit Awards (Nama) winning artist Forbes Mushipe has embarked on imparting artistic skills to young and vulnerable children starting in his home province, Midlands.

Mushipe, who won the Nama in the mixed media category for three years consecutively, believes it is high time for him to plough back into the community by grooming youngsters and developing the arts industry.

“I am working with vulnerable people mainly children from the street and orphans and I am teaching them visual art (paper painting) as well as playing mbira music.

“I chose the vulnerable children because the majority of them do not have enough opportunities to pursue academic education, hence I am trying to empower them through art,” he said.

Mushipe told the Daily News that it was futile to keep on grabbing awards for outstanding work without imparting skills to future generations.

He said giving back to the society does not necessarily require one to be financially sound.

“I used to cry about the financial challenges we are experiencing in the country but I learnt I can do great things using the little I have.

“In my case, I am using a canvass and bond paper and some brushes and it does not cost much,” he said.

Mushipe is closely working with several children’s homes in Gweru and surrounding areas.

“Some of the children are from children’s homes and we are planning to tour different high-profile art galleries dotted around the country such that they get enough exposure,” he said.

To extend his hand to the vulnerable children in his community, Mushipe was inspired by his poor upbringing.

“I grew up in poverty despite the fact that my parents were alive, so I can imagine how difficult it was for those surviving without their parents,” he said.  “Apart from my difficult upbringing, I am raising my children as a single parent and I know how it is for them.

“My first wife passed away in 2000 while my second wife left our matrimonial home five years ago. I have no other business to fend for the family but I simply depend on art,” he said.

Mushipe first won a Nama award in 2011 with his mixed media master piece titled Barika while Melodies from the Mermaid landed him another accolade the following year.

In 2013, Mushipe won the award with Nhapwasikana ahead of Johnson Zuze’s Barking Dog and Anthony Ngandu’s School Children.

Mushipe draws most of his artistic inspiration from Gweru’s high density suburb of Mkoba where he dwells and has no plans to move away from the area as of now.

“Mkoba is a high activity suburb from where I get inspiration,” he said. “I do not think I will make it right in my art career if I move away from Mkoba.

“I love working from my backyard and I feel like a real ambassador not only for Gweru but for the Midlands Province as a whole.”

He said he loves to interact with many people because his works seek to address societal ills including polygamy (Barika) and ill-treatment of the girl child (Nhapwasikana) among others.

Born in Zimbabwe, he grew up in neighbouring Zambia.

Mushipe has participated in several exhibitions such as Zimbabwe Heritage in 2002 and Harare Biennial in 2004 as well as in South Africa.

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


Comments (1)

My good friend, please send me your most recent photograph. Send me also the pictures of your recent works. I know they should be amazing. Greetings.

Richard Ndonji - 1 June 2015

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