Mangena's piece is Artwork of the Week

HARARE - This week’s chosen Artwork of the Week at the National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe (NAGZ) is Marvelous Mangena’s painting, “Inspiration from a bass player”.

It is a post-independence celebration providing a reflection on the tremendous role played by jazz music in the struggle by black people for socio-political and economic independence during the colonial era.

This artwork is currently on display along with several other artworks in the “Jazzified: Expression of Protest” exhibition running from August 22 to October 30.

The exhibition is being curated by Lilian Chaonwa and Fadzai Muchemwa.

Jazz music has its roots in the struggle of the poor; black arts movement and the Black Nationalist movements.

Africans were exposed to American and South African jazz through township loud speakers, gramophone, radio and the bioscope.

Zimbabwean jazz also known as Afro-jazz developed in the 20th century. Its history can be traced to the early colonial era. It was influenced by a style of township rhythm that evolved in a southern part of Africa.

At that time, Africans from rural Zimbabwe converged with those from Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi in townships and jazz music was born.

It was used as a medium for addressing the socio-political struggles that the black majority were facing in the colonial system.

Jazz music was mainly played in townships, the most segregated parts in the colonial system which were reserved for black citizens.

In these townships one would find shebeens which provided black folk with a crucial place to meet and discuss political and social issues after working hours, while enjoying home-brewed alcohol sold there.

It was not played on national radios because of the message that it carried which was not favourable to the colonial masters who were in power at that time.

Zimbabwe boasts of jazz artistes in the form of Victor Kunonga, Jabavu Drive and Summer Breeze, among others.

Live performances at various hotels, corporate functions, nightspots and festivals have kept the genre alive for all these years.

The current crop of jazz musicians includes Dudu Manhenga and The Colour Blu, Jazz Invitation, Tanga Wekwa Sando, Blessing Mparutsa, Rodger Hukuimwe, Sam Mataure and Prudence Katomeni-Mbofana.

Like jazz music, the artworks in this exhibition draw from life experience and human emotion as the inspiration of the creative force and a history of people.

The collection on display showcases the unifying elements of the rhythm actions that brought people together. The meeting point for the reflection is the music.

Also on display in the exhibition is a painting by Thomas Mukarobgwa one of the early workshop painters nostalgically titled “Inyanga” which shows a yearning of things far beyond the everyday.

Another artwork is by Boira Mteki apocalyptic “After the War” which in bold colours looks at the lack of gains by Africans after the Second World War — stripped bare of apologies.

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