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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Agnes’ ''Social Issues" condemns child, women abuse

...but has no qualms with polygamy

By Andrew Mulenga
Women and child abuse, polygamy and environmental awareness. A complex thread with which Livingston-based artist Agnes Buya Yombwe weaves a rich tapestry in an exhibition entitled Social Issues that is now showing at the Livingston Museum.
Police Commissioner, Southern Province Brenda Muntemba
with artist Agness Buya Yombwe at the openning of
her art exhibition at the Livingston Museum
Officially opening  the exhibition as guest of honour last week, Commissioner of Police Southern Province, Brenda Muntemba says looking at the art work she could see the artist simply reaching out and saying abuse and gender based violence are wrong and should be stopped.
“You have to go beyond the pictures, what I like is that she is talking about things we are usually ashamed to talk about, things that we want to ignore and pretend do not occur or exist,” said Muntemba in an interview “But the exhibition itself goes beyond abuse because it challenges silence.”
Muntemba, a strong advocate of non-violence against women added that we are brought-up in a culture that says it is okay to suffer abuse as a woman.
Stop Women Abuse (mixed media)
75x60cm by Agness Yombwe
 “Sadly for us as police, one day she (the wife) will wake up on the wrong side of the bed and stab her abusive husband then for us the law will have to take its course regardless of the obvious abuse that was a build up to the final act. We therefore need more people like Agnes to come out and stop the silence.”
As Muntemba says, Agnes’ message is loud and clear, stop the abuse. However, what is thoroughly absorbing in her work is the playfulness with which she handles material on such complicated and serious matters like wife batter.
A typical example is a painting entitled “Stop Women Abuse”. It shows a woman in stitches with a disfigured face depicted in a rudimentary and playful manner. Agnes however explains the playfulness in some of her works.
“There is an inner-child that is released when I am working, it just jumps out. That is why I enjoy the times when I am working with children. I play; there is that freedom I am able to bring out emotions freely without worrying too much. Because the children themselves are sincere and true. “She explained after the opening night.
She also explained that she sees her work as a constant work in progress pointing at a work entitled Rythms of the Heart she said it is a painting that she had changed twice over the past two years.
“look at this work for instance at first it had tears painted down its face, this was a time when I was taking care of a relative who was admitted to a mental hospital. But I rubbed them off... when things improved, the patient became better, “she said.
Polygamy constantly pops up in her work, and when asked to explain, Agnes gives a somewhat controversial answer.
Polygamist (acrylic on canvas) 125 x 104
by Agness Buya Yombwe
“I’m Tumbuka by tribe, it’s in my family. One of my uncles has 14 wives. My own dad was once encouraged to get another wife after having too many daughters and no son. But he stood his ground and later had two sons and eight daughters”
“I can say I sometimes support polygamy, because if a man can be honest and sincere that he is not satisfied with one wife that is better than having several girlfriends.  It’s better that people know where he is if he doesn’t come home, if you see most of my work it is just one man and two women... it should never go beyond two women.”
Agnes needs no introduction on the Zambian art scene. She is the feminine half of the artistic couple Lawrence and Agnes, the duo set up shop in Livingstone opening WayiWayi Gallery and Studio after serving as teachers for over 10 years in Botswana. A painter, sculptor, printmaker, textile artist, administrator and jeweller. At 46, she is a mother of two teenagers who splits her time by also being a wife and running classes and workshops at the gallery.
She graduated from Evelyn Hone College in 1989 and has attended training in the US, Norway and the UK. She is viewed by many as being responsible for inspiring an entire generation of young female artists in her wake.
Her current exhibition could be best summed up in the words of “fellow artist and Lechwe Art Trust Chairperson Cynthia Zukas:
I was very lucky to be in Livingston so i can catch this wonderful exhibition by Agnes Yombwe. I’m so impressed, her work about the abuse of women and children are quite profound... and also her lighter works full of design and colour i really wish her every success.” 

Ring, Sanderson add lively touch to Zebra Crossings Cafe

By Andrew Mulenga

Engaging, lively and flirtatious. This is the ongoing, two-woman exhibition of about 40 oil and acrylic paintings by Nicole Sanderson and Katrina Ring that runs until 2 May.
Standing in the Zebra Crossings Cafe’s main dining space along Addis Ababa Road in Lusaka, you get to see vivid wildlife, landscapes and market scenes by Ring who also provides much of the still life in the show.
Lady Chaterley (acrylic on canvas)
by Nicole Sanderson
However, you quickly find your eyes patrolling the nude buttocks of “Lady Chatterley” a large acrylic on canvas painting by Sanderson, all the while hoping that the waiters are busy and are not paying attention to your assumed moment of voyeurism. Again, art does allow us to celebrate and appreciate the nude human form on occasion.
In this particular painting, however, it is not so much the celebration of the female that is enchanting, but also the artist’s skilful handling of light, shadow and the depiction of drapery.
Lady Chatterley is standing with her back towards the viewer as blast of light comes shining through the large window behind her with its window framer casting a shadow on all but her nude figure, classic.
She stands on what appears to be a white bed ruffled white bed sheet. Nevertheless, Sanderson’s nudes do not end here. There is about four more of a similar size, all in various poses and with various themes with spicy titles such as Summer Breeze, Autumn Fires and Blue Smoke.
However, it after taking a closer look at Sanderson’s, which is unavoidable, one realises that there is more to the paintings than nudity; these paintings are exuding emotion as well as celebrating freedom , freedom of expression by the artist and freedom of the soul by the subject matter, freedom to bare all and not hold back. Art as it should be.
Kaonga Market (oil on canvas) by Katrina Ring
Ring’s work on the other hand is slightly mundane, although colourfully so, and it seems to celebrate nature and the outdoors. As a painter there is no doubt her skills are exceptional.
But what is exciting about her work is the fact that she does all her paintings on location as did the French impressionists of the late 1800’s. Ring should be applauded for this if anything, painting on site is no mean undertaking. Artists repeat painting sessions at the same spot and often the same time of day for several days at a time.
Mfuwe Trees with ground hornbill
(oil on canvas) By Katerina Ring
This also entails standing against the elements risking dust blown on to your canvas or getting soaked by the rains, in the case of a Caucasian it should even involve litres of sun block.
Ring is a full-time painter, living part-time in Italy and part-time in Zambia. Her education was in graphic and textile design at the University of California, Davis. She continued, postgraduate, through the University of Georgia, Athens in Cortona, Italy and have studied drawing and painting in Germany, Florence and in the USA through various programs and schools for professional artists.
The ongoing exhibition is definitely a delight to watch and the Red Dot Gallery and Zebra Crossing Cafe have once again provided us with an entertaining exhibition, however, the display lacks detail in its failure to provide mini biographies and statements by the well experienced, but little known artists. 

Blue Smoke (acrylic on canvas) by Nicole Sanderson

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Conscious reggae is not dead

...well as far as Third World bassist Ritchie Daley is concerned
By Andrew Mulenga
Third World bass guitarist Ritchie Daley at
the Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Peace, love and harmony. Key ingredients in reggae music’s lyrics that alongside with socio-political topics, black nationalism, anti-racism, anti-colonialism, anti-capitalism, criticism of political systems and "Babylon" have inspired generations of listeners to be socially conscious.
For decades, generations have woken up to inspirational lyrics by the likes of reggae greats Peter Tosh and Bob Marley, to literally “get up stand up, stand up for your right”.
But in recent times, one might argue that reggae music has lost the plot. Particularly in its increasingly popular sub-genre of “Dancehall Reggae”. Like hip-hop, Dancehall lyrics are causing some controversy with alleged exploitation of women promotion of gun violence, the glorification street life, strippers and cars. Chart toppers such as Vybz Kartel and rival Mavado (Jamaica) with their raw, edgy lyrics are seen to be influencing youth towards disrespect for authority and a life of violence.
Perhaps the most controversial issue surrounding dancehall reggae has been lyrics viewed as extremely homophobic. In the 90s dancehall heavyweight Buju Banton’s song “Boom Bye-Bye”, advocated the shooting of gay men. As luck would have it, the sing became a hit with urban youth around the world who were dancing to the catchy beat in clubs but did not understand the lyrics.
A decade later, Jamaican group, TOK (Touch of Klass), released “Chi Chi Man”. A song that went to number one on the UK Reggae charts. Gay and lesbian groups were later outraged that lyrics implied that people should burn gay men alive.
But, as dancehall, songs continue to produce provocative and sexually explicit music videos and contain lyrics that contain “Daggering” a dancehall term that refers to songs that promote sexual acts. But for the conscious reggae aficionado, there is hope still.
Ritchie Daley, bass guitarist for the legendary reggae band Third World of "Now That We Found Love and 96° in the Shade fame argues that conscious reggae is still alive. Third World were in Cape Town, South Africa for the 13th Cape Town International Jazz Festival
When posed with the question “is conscious reggae dead?” at the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town last Saturday, he maintained that consciousness still exists in reggae music and he briefly highlighted the challenges it faces.
“No, conscious reggae is not dead. With the young people, there is still a cry for it amongst them, you know. There is a cry for a conscious message. True they listen to a lot of dancehall music but there are a whole lot of young musicians trying to deliver conscious reggae music,” explains Daley who has been playing bass for the band since 1973, “But, it is getting harder for them to play it on radio, funny enough. Because of the people who have the authority to select music for the radio, and this is killing, suppressing conscious reggae music.”
When asked whom he sees as the leading artists in the younger generation of conscious reggae acts, Daley replies; “Obviously there are quite a number of younger artistes out there with a positive message, but I would say top of the list is Damian “Junior Gong” Marley and Tarrus Riley”.
Both artistes are sons of reggae legends, Bob Marley and Jimmy Riley respectively, and they both feature on Third World’s 37th Anniversary album Patriot along with other reggae royalty Gregory Isaacs, Toots, Marcia Griffiths and legendary Jamaican saxophonist Dean Fraser.
Daley performed at the jazz fest in cape town with band mates William ‘Bunny Rugs’ Clarke (vocals), Stephen Cat’ Coor’(guitar), Lenworth ‘Ruption’ Williams, Norris Webb and Maurice Gregory on keyboards last saturday. The band has been together for almost 40 years and has become known and celebrated as ambassadors of peace and goodwill to which the hold a peace award from the UN.

Ritchie Daley with Andrew Mulenga at the
13th Cape Town International Jazz Festival

Andrew Mulenga with  Maurice Gregory (Keyboards)
and Lenworth 'Ruption' Williams (Drums) from Third World

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Brazil?... No, this is Carnival Cape Town style

Story and pictures by Andrew Mulenga
Getting it started
A barrage of music assaults our ears from every direction. African, Caribbean, Latin American, and Indian: it is the United Nations of rhythm. There is also a kaleidoscope of gyrating bodies performing all kinds of dance as the moon shines bright over Table Mountain.
This is carnival – Cape Town style. I may be jet lagged and wanting to get some rest. However, the burst of rolling samba drums captured my attention and I just had to abandon my hotel room and take to the streets.
The streets however, were so packed there was not a place to stand. I therefore had to excavate myself through the crowd in order to find a camera spot, but in vain. Almost suddenly, I understood what that 90’s MC and one hit wonder Skee-Lo meant when he rapped “I wish I was a little bit taller”, because at this point so did I, if I was a little taller I could take pictures above the heads of the crowds. Fortunately, I found a space right next to a so-called “Cape coloured” family that clearly constituted a four-generation line-up from grandmother to grandchildren. They had carried food and warm clothing visibly here to enjoy the night until late.
A dancer in an aloe vera outfit
Nevertheless, wave after wave of multi-coloured floats representing the diversity of South African, Vis a vis Cape Town culture exploded onto Somerset Road transforming it into a dazzling passageway of colour and dance that fascinated a local and international horde of approximately 100,000 people.
After having a fair share of the festivities I decide to stop for the day and get some even though the fun was just starting at 22:00hrs in the form a free concert at Cape Town stadium.
Walking back to the hotel, memories from home gush through my mind with a slideshow of images from Zambia’s celebration of the recent triumph at the Africa Cup of Nations. I remember how, as the four generation coloured family, Zambian families kept vigil along the airport road albeit the whole day on empty stomachs just to get a glimpse of their heroes and the trophy.
I remember in Zambia how the crowds were almost uncontrollable to the extent of allegedly getting the Police IG fired, probably because we are a nation starved of a carnival atmosphere.
...more aloe vera
Nevertheless, back to the Cape Town Carnival, which is only in its third year. As much as it is a crowd-puller. There were a few in the crowd who had no kind words for it.
“This is not the original carnival, it is not for the people... people had to leave the township and jump on taxis (mini buses) which will stop at 20:00hrs when the fun is just beginning” said a photographer friend of mine before the start of the whole event “The real carnival is held in January, not this one, this is just commercial, it’s not for the people”.
My good friend was referring to the Cape Minstrels Carnival, the oldest event of this kind in South Africa that is over 100 years old and traces its roots back to old slave traditions of the Cape Colony. It is historically celebrated on January 2, the one-day Cape slaves were given off every year, and it is therefore essentially a celebration of freedom.
Indian dance: the festivities are multi-cultural
The Croc Queen
Happy viewing...
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