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Thursday, 18 August 2011

Arterial Network launches Zambian chapter

By Andrew Mulenga

Arterial Network a continental network of artists, cultural activists, arts NGOs, cultural enterprises and others committed to developing African arts as means to contribute to democracy, human rights and development in Africa, whose secretariat is based in Cape Town launched its Zambian Chapter in Lusaka recently.
Creative practitioners from a cross section of the
arts take part ina workshop facilitated by
Yezi Arts Promotions during the
launch at Kwithu Lodge in Lusaka -
Picture by Esther Chilala Miyoba
The launch was held on August 5, at Kwithu Lodge and the Arterial Network Zambia Chapter became the 30th to be launched on the continent.
The launch activities  were coordinated by Yezi Arts Promotions and  involved a media training workshop on arts and culture on August 4 and the actual launch of the network the following day.
It attracted about 30 participants from a cross-section of the arts and the Arterial Network regional office was represented by Josh Nyapimbi, the chairperson of the Zimbabwean Chapter.
Nyapimbi played the role of introducing the network to the delegates as well as giving guidance on how to proceed with the launch of the chapter. He gave a background to the organisation under the theme "Advancing African Creative Sector" highlighting the network’s aims as well as its key funding partners.
The key issues that came out of the presentation were that of the advantages of belonging to Arterial Network, funding to the arts and cultural sector and political will from the Zambian government in supporting the growth of the sector.
With regards funding, Nyapimbi advised that the Arterial Network in itself does not provide funding but provides a channel to accessing pool funding from other donors.
The added advantage of being a member was the readily available information to enhance arts and culture and easy access to certain facilities necessary for the growth of the industry such as festivals and exchange programmes.
In closing the deliberation, it was agreed in the house that we must continue to advocate for a Zambian ministry for arts and culture if the arts are to have any meaningful development as a sector.
During the launch, a national steering committee was elected to oversee the activities of the newly launched chapter for the coming period. The committee comprises Andrew Mulenga as chairman, Becky Ngoma as vice chairperson, Clive Kawana Secretary, Mwape  Mumbi committee  member, Dorothy Musukwa committee member. Yezi Arts will provide the secretariat for the operations of Arterial Zambia until the chapter can stand on its own.
In March 2007, more than 50 delegates from 14 African countries met on GorĂ©e Island, Senegal to discuss the theme Revitalising Africa’s Cultural Assets. Research indicated that Africa contributes less than 1 per cent to world trade in creative goods and services.  Delegates resolved to unite across national borders to address their common challenges.  A Task Team was elected to represent the five African regions and a Secretariat was appointed to coordinate the activities of the network.
It held its second conference in Johannesburg in September 2009 with 130 delegates from 28 African countries. A constitutional framework was adopted, a 10-person Steering Committee with Zambia's Mulenga Kapwepwe as interim chairperson was elected and country representatives were mandated to establish branches in as many African countries as possible.
In terms of constitutional framework, the biannual conference of members elects a Steering Committee comprising two representatives per region to provide leadership for a period of two years.  A General Council comprising country representatives (the elected chairpersons of national branches) meets at least once per year to evaluate progress and provide direction for the next year.  Members in each country elect a national Steering Committee to oversee the affairs of Arterial Network in that country.
It compiles and distributes monthly newsletters in English and French sharing news relevant to Africa’s creative sector and is establishing another publication in Portuguese.

IFACCA announces 5th World Summit on Arts and Culture bursary recipients

By Andrew Mulenga

If numbers are to be of any consequence, Africa will be well represented at the 5th World Summit on Arts & Culture in Melbourne, Australia this year as seventeen Africans have been awarded bursaries to attend, courtesy of the International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies (IFACCA).
According to a recent announcement in the Arterial Networks monthly bulletin, delegates have been selected from Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Zambia will be represented by Victor Makashi, Director, National Arts Council of Zambia and Prince Lamba, Chief Cultural Affairs Officer, Department of Cultural Affairs, Ministry of Community Development and Social Services.
The summit will run from the October 3 - 6 and according to an online welcome statement by Australian actress and Hollywood film star Cate Blanchett, the summit "will bring thinkers, provocateurs and arts policy leaders together to share stories about the arts and its role in our lives."
"The Summit theme; Creative Intersections, acknowledges the arts as a thread. A thread that weaves and binds together the many different parts of our lives; health, family, commerce, humanity... It is this precious thread that helps shape our identity and binds together in a common spirit. It is critically important that arts policy makers, the people who directly impart the lives of artists, find time to talk together. The Summit promises to be a creative global melting pot," states the message.
As much as Blanchett's meditative statement may be indicative of the summits expectation, it is tempting to muse on how Africa's proxies to world events tend to play a bench warming role and how they often return without much to show, save for conference photographs and a few knickknacks purchased through the cordial provisions of per diems.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Seasoned artist, Emmanuel Nsama put to rest in Kitwe after sudden bout of high blood pressure

By Andrew Mulenga
Emmanuel Nsama (r) with Canadian artist Marjorie Murray 
in the early 70s at the art studio in which he lectured 
at the Africa Literature Centre in Kitwe 

Zambian visual arts suffered a great loss as one of its iconic art lecturers and religious painters Emmanuel Nsama died aged 70 after a sudden bout of high blood pressure after a normal day of work (at home) and tending to his backyard garden early last week. He was put to rest at Kitwe's Chingola Road cemetery last Thursday after an artistic career spanning well over 50 years.
From 1964 to 65, he was trained at the now defunct Africa Literature Centre (ALC) in Mindolo, Kitwe alongside the fabled Akwila Simpasa in the traditional way of how artists used to aid the church's literature to communicate the scriptures graphically and convincingly. ALC was the art school where he would later spend an illustrious career in the faculty. He became assistant lecturer under Canadian artist and director of the Art Studio Marjorie Murray, before leaving for further studies to attend a two year advanced art programme at Sheridan College in Canada from 1966 to 1968 and returning as lecturer in 1970. Through the 70s he worked as a senior lecturer and from 1979 to 1987 he was head of the art department.
In the 60s Nsama was among the first Zambian’s to depict biblical 
characters with African features such as the scene in the Last Supper
Nsama spent much of his later years dedicated to painting Bible scenes by commission in churches as well as teaching screen printing and batik techniques to willing apprentices. Still prolific until his untimely death, the artist has left over 200 Christian-themed paintings of which his daughter and administrator Mercy Mwansa, also an artist, intends to organise a retrospective exhibition.
Among some key figures that have passed through the tutelage of Nsama are the likes of graphic designer and logo maestro Tom Mbumba, the artist behind the last two Zamtel logos before the LAP Green Network takeover, Lawrence Yombwe the influential Livingstone-based artist, and Roy Kausa, seasoned critic and contemporary Zambian art historian.
Yombwe described Nsama as one of the best tutors Zambia has ever produced.
“The first time I came across a pallette knife or even used one in place of a paint brush was under his guidance. In fact much of the movement in my work is owed to him”, said Yombwe.
Kausa regrets the demise of Nsama citing it as a great loss as well as a lesson to Zambian academic institutions to take stock of seasoned human resource while they are still alive.
“I personally feel that its a pity UNZA, Open University, Evelyn Hone College or any institutions that are already playing a role in the arts or who plans to open art institutions never go out and research or search for people who are well trained as lecturers to help them upgrade themselves as well as the institutions” said Kausa in an interview at Twaya Art gallery at Lusaka's Intercontinental Hotel early this week. “I must say its a pity that he's gone, a pity that when people go like that we start realising 'hey we would have liked him to do this or that project.”
A typical multi-coloured batik 
print by Emmanuel Nsama
Kausa said Nsama was a lecturer and a senior yet a friend with whom he shared much while at ALC and beyond. He said if there were 10 humble people in Kitwe, Nsama would have come first.
“He was a lecturer who would mix with his students as if they were his peers. In class we had friends from Sudan, West Africa, South Africa but he treated each one of us with equal attention.” he said “When the abstract craze came in, and you wouldn't know whether artists are cheating he stuck to his figurative style. But this is not to say that when we were his students he would never allow us to experiment. When he knew that we were now fully fledged artists he would tell us to play around with paints in any manner just to see our creativity”
“Even in the darkroom as our photography lecturer he encouraged us to be a bit more creative out of the ordinary in terms of our technique”
Kausa also added that in Zambia Nsama was among the first to depict biblical scenes in an African light, for instance painting the 12 disciples with African faces. But that not only did he have the passion to depict Christ and the life of Christians, he personally practiced Christianity and would preach the word of God through art. A visit to a number of parishes in Kitwe today will reveal his large murals on the walls.
“What is also sad is that ALC is no more. When the centre was still running it played a great role. Unlike Evelyn Hone (College),it was unique because it was looking at the entire continent as far as art and journalism is concerned.” he said “Along with the director Mkandawire, they started the idea of 'rural press', where artists and journalists would be sent to rural areas. While our journalist friends would be documenting rural life, we would be translating it into graphic visuals.”
Probably to echo Kausa's cry at the loss of Nsama as an artistic fountain of knowledge, it would be fitting to highlight the demise of ALC as a Pan-African institute that provided quality art and journalism training for over 30 years drawing students from as far as Myanmar, Pakistan and North America. ALC was the first higher learning institution in Zambia to provide computer assisted art and design vis a vis newspaper design, introducing desktop publishing on Apple computers in the early 90s. But the school's meteoric rise within the realms of innovative tertiary education left a crater of deficiency in art and journalism training in Zambia when the institution, co-funded  by the World Council of Churches finally collapsed owing to mismanagement in the mid 90s.
As a lecturer at the institution, Nsama was an all rounder teaching painting, photography, graphic design and textile design. He is survived by wife Ireen whom he married in 1963 with whom he has 7 children and 16 grandchildren.
Among his earliest collectors are hotelier, art patron and formerly voracious art collector Gaudensio Rossi.