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Monday, 29 October 2012

Children’s art exposes social decay at AMAKA festival

By Andrew Mulenga

Rape, defilement, wife battering, drug and alcohol abuse; the eye-opening, grim picture portrayed in paintings from all corners of the country in a children’s exhibition held at the Lusaka National Museum during  the inaugural AMAKA arts festival recently.
(Detail) The Dark Side of Destiny,
by Joseph Lukolongo, 17 years old,
Kabulonga Boys High School.
Facilitator – Caroline Miyoba
An innocent, yet disturbing collection of images that draw you in with the emotional intensity of their subject matter, make you stop and look intently at each and every one of them as they remind you how as an adult in 2012, you were probably exposed to little or none of what the average eight-year old of today is.
If children are able to portray what they see around them in the manner of these images, it surely is a chaotic world we are living in and the child of today knows a lot more than you can imagine.
The children’s artwork has its own voice and its accent echoes everything from morality to the uncertainties of being a generation on the brink, beckoning to be rescued or at least heard before it is too late.
In a painting entitled The Dark Side of Destiny Kabulonga Boys High School’s Joseph Lukolongo depicts a skimpily dressed woman dragging a small boy with his pants down into the house for an act of sexual abuse. Lukolongo, only 17 years old himself, brings to our attention one of the most undisclosed forms of sexual abuse, that of women abusing young boys. He reminds us that such acts do occur in our society, although of course for reasons that may be best understood by experts from the Victim Support Unit, we never get to hear much about them.
From Chingola, William Deyala, a 16 year old at Chikola High School shows a provoking portrayal of domestic violence. A man with a clenched fist, and a broken bottle lunges towards a woman, the painting is aptly titled Violence In The House. Hanging from the man’s pocket is a popular brand of the lethally potent and now banned plastic sachets of spirit alcohol, tujilijili, suggesting that alcohol is the conduit for acts violent. The woman on the other hand is not backing away, she stands her ground and boldly points at the man with her finger.
More Money In A Skirt, by Marvin Bitawa,
16 years old, Kyawama High School.
Facilitator – Felix Wakyembe (ZAOU)
The title of a painting by Marvin Bitawa of Kyawama High School in Solwezi, More Money In A Skirt, appears to mimic the “More Money In Your Pockets” campaign slogan of the ruling Patriotic Front party. But judging from the painting, its title insinuates the short skirt worn by the girl in the picture is a source of income, probably earning her money by attracting clients for acts of prostitution. The subject is also hugging books against her chest in the manner of schoolgirls or female college students; actually, the painting and its title controversially conveys the embodiment of a sex worker and a student in one.  
Perhaps the most elaborate painting in the exhibition with regards depicting the unstable and impulsive aspects of urban youth culture in Zambia is New Culture by Happyson Kamwandi, an 18 year old from Chikola High School, the same Chingola School that Deyala of the Violence In The House painting attends. In this painting, the young artist has articulately commented on Zambian youths’ desire to acquire and consume everything western; clothes, technology, alcohol and the social behaviour of R&B-hip-hop stars.
New Culture, by Happyson Kamwandi,
18 years old. Chikola High School.
Facilitator - Japhet Phiri (ZAOU)
New Culture features an urban youth who in appearance looks like a cross between US rapper Lil’ Wayne and Zambian rapper Macky 2. The subject is a typical incarnation of a hip-hop obsessed young male or a “yo” as they are mockingly called. His baggy jeans hang below his waist line revealing his underwear for all to see, a fashion detail that is said to have been conceived by inmates with homoerotic implications in US prisons but is now a global, hip-hop fashion phenomenon. Those that adopt the trend - which unfortunately can be seen in school uniforms nowadays ­- believe it gives them ‘swag’, which is short for the term swagger, a conceited, yet highly fashionable form of showing-off among trendy urban youth.
Violence in the house, by William Deyala,
16 years old, Chikola High School. Facilitator Japhet Phiri
The youth in the painting has a fairly large piece of ‘bling’, jewellery hanging from his jeans as well as one with a huge dollar sign hanging around his neck, typical of rappers. He is leaning against the wall, smoking a cigarette and talking on his cell phone. “What’s up baby?” he says in full ‘swag’ mode, also holding a bottle of beer and an open laptop computer that is resting on his bended knee. He has a shiny watch, earring and large-framed sunglasses to complement his ‘bling’ factor. His fashion statement is summed up with braided hair, shiny blue basketball sneakers and a baseball cap with a wide visor while his tight fitting vest reveals a shoulder tattoo.
Bringing all these elements, into his painting, Kamwandi has gone flat out to warn his fellow youths against the dangers of adopting western social behaviour. The bright yellow background of the poster-like image is crowned with bold text that reads “Slavery!” on one hand and “What a culture with no future!” on the other.
But it is not all the works that portrayed a picture of social gloom and doom in the eyes of today’s children. There were some delightfully colourful and playful works such as At The Round-About, by Justice Wilima an 8 years-old from Kasenengwa Basic School in the Eastern Province depicting cars, buses and motorcycles circling a round-about or A pilot flying a plane, by Genesis Lungu of Mukobeko Basic School in Kabwe.
And Zambia Open University (ZAOU) lecturer William Miko, who was overseeing the exhibition, explained that it culminated from an exercise from his second and third year Fine Arts Student’s most of who are school teachers.
At The Round-About, (water colour) by Justice Wilima,
8 years-old, Kasenengwa Basic.
Facilitator - Pakuya Mwale (ZAOU)
The exhibition was also made possible by sponsorship from Bayport financial services limited and Huwei through the International Women’s club and the Diplomatic Spouses club.
“The background is that every year I donate a painting to the International Women’s Club and the Diplomatic Spouses Club who hold dinners to raise funds. So this year just before they started distributing their funds, they approached me and asked whether there are any projects that I need to be funding, “he said in an interview at the museum last week before the exhibition came to an end.
A pilot flying a plane, by Genesis Lungu,
Mukobeko Basic School. Facilitator- Steward Chileshe
“So I told them if they buy me paints I will give them to my university students who are going to do workshops with children on community perspectives, to give them an opportunity to bring out the issues that are going on in their community.”
He said it was an opportunity for his students to learn how to create projects that use art to dissect the happenings in the community.
“So I gave it to them as a class exercise under the module of Studio Practice so they went out and worked in schools and communities with children aged between 8 and 18 years old. I insisted they also involve children who are circumstantially out of school”.
Miko explained that the project was also part of the ZAOU students' examinations and that they first presented sketches that the children had done, as part of the oral component of their examinations and these presentations were critiqued by colleagues.
Drug Abuse, by Henry Chibale,
13 years-old, Kanyama.
Facilitator - Wallace Mukoso Meki (ZAOU)
“My students went back to their various stations and continued developing the drawings with the children to finally develop the paintings you can see here, and they all had to choose at least the best 15. The final works were tied into the AMAKA programme,” Said Miko.
Yvonne Mulala, Assistant Education Officer at the museum said the exhibition was well received because it was simple but carried very important messages on issues that are happening in neighbourhoods.
“We invited about 10 visiting schools from Lusaka alone and they all turned up to see the exhibition. When I asked the children what they were seeing in the paintings they could bring out more than is portrayed in the images,” said Mulala. 
“But it’s interesting when you see the children watching the paintings, some of them would say ‘we can do better’, and some of them were just critics. You could also tell that some understood the issues more than others”.
The exhibition was one of two shows that made the visual arts component of the multi-disciplinary AMAKA arts festival, an ambitious, private initiative that aims at celebrating dance, theatre, film, arts and craft annually. Justifiably, AMAKA suffered a few teething problems, which do not need amplifying here, such must be expected in an arts scene that is bereft of any form of creative arts festivals. Next year’s event will definitely run smoother; we can all look forward to it. - Courtesy: The Post Newspper (Zambia).
Lusaka National Museum Assistant Education officer
Yvonne Mulala with pupil's from Lusaka's Chawama High School

Thursday, 25 October 2012

EXPO 2015 to look at art of all countries and continents

… Among other things

By Andrew Mulenga

It might be three years ahead, but Italy is already deep into preparations to host the Universal Exposition, a global fair to be staged in the city of Milan in the year 2015.

Old and new artworks that celebrate food in the manner of
Italian painter Vincenzo Campi’s ‘La fruttivendola’ (The Fruit Vendor),
1580, will be displayed in a thematic area called Food In Art
Called "EXPO 2015: feeding the planet, energy for life", it will be a platform for millions of people from all over the world to come together over a six month period to explore and celebrate "the close bond between nutrition, health, sustainable development and cultural tradition".

The event’s display space will be divided into 5 main thematic areas; these being the Children’s Park, Biodiversity Park, Future Food District, Pavilion Zero and what is likely to be one of the most exciting, the Food In Art pavilion.

In a presentation at an International Participants Meeting (IPM) a precursor the exposition in Milan last week, Expo 2015 Director of Thematic Areas Matteo Gatto showed some details on how these areas will be structured. Of the Food In Art pavilion, Gatto said it ''will explore the relationship between man and food as an object of symbolic reflection". In Gatto’s video presentation, acclaimed Italian curator Germano Celant revealed that the pavilion ''will look at the art of all countries and continents''.

The organisers suggest: "The biggest question raised by Food in Art is whether the story of mankind can be examined in terms of food by looking at how it is presented in our cultural heritage. How can contemporary artists show the great concern we have about those important themes that are presented through symbolism and allegory at Expo? These are some of the questions to which each of us can suggest our own personal answers".

A member of the Italian Federation of Flag-flyers waves the
Zambian flag in the streets of Milan during the openining
of the Expo Milan 2015 IPM last week
The pavilion will feature contemporary works as well as old works such as those featured in "Feeding Milan, the history and Landscape of food in the city" a 164-page Expo volume book by Lucia Bisi.

Zambia has confirmed participation in the Expo 2015 and has since appointed a commission for the event as is the custom, comprising Zambia’s Ambassador to Italy, Frank Mutubila as the country’s Commissioner Genera, while his deputy is Zambia Development Agency director Glyne Michelo.

As exciting as the thought of Zambian artists having the opportunity to display their work or perform on a global platform over a six month period might be. There is no need for excitement at this stage, as these are early days and representing Zambia through the arts may not be part of our EXPO 2015 commission’s plan.

In communication from First Secretary Commerce and Trade Terrence Sichombo on behalf of ambassador Mutubila, he states that: "So far, we have a technical working committee comprising the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, and the Embassy of Zambia in Rome. After this meeting (IPM), the national planning committee will be constituted and it will include all relevant stakeholders."

(L-R) ZDA information officer Obby Banda, ZDA director Glyne Michelo
and First Secretary (Economic & Trade) in Italy Trevor Sichombo during
the participant’s meeting in Milan last week
The embassy confirms that Zambia is expected to participate in the EXPO through the "Cluster exhibition model", where its stand will be situated, although the country is yet to sign the participation contract. The cluster in which Zambia shall exhibit is still being discussed and once a national planning committee is formed, it shall among its roles, identify exhibits and other items that will be representative of Zambia, in line with the theme of the EXPO 2015.

The embassy explains that although the national preparatory committee for the event is yet to be formed, tentative stakeholders have already been identified. "Judging from the theme of the Expo 2015, we can indicate that stakeholders in the agriculture, energy, water, commerce, media and health will be among the stakeholders to adequately cover the theme. The designing of the stand for Zambia has not yet been decided as this particular matter will be covered in the participating contract. You may wish to know that Zambia is still consulting stakeholders in Zambia before signing the contract".

Looking at the tentative list of stakeholders provided by the embassy, it is easy to see that neither tourism nor the arts are being considered for the expo at this stage, despite their immense potential as inducement for foreign holiday-makers, scholars, adventurers and others. Particularly now that Zambia has a vibrant minister of tourism and arts in Sylvia Masebo, it would be wise to get her involved. Doing so will help showcase what Zambia has to offer in terms of tourism as well as arts and culture.

But as the Zambian EXPO commission have put it, a committee is still being put together and also this may be due to the nature of Zambia’s exhibition space at the event. Exhibiting in a cluster system may entail that as a country Zambia is likely to exhibit specific products such as agricultural produce in shared pavilions alongside other countries. A few of the various clusters include fruit and legumes, spices, cereals, arid zones and tubers and coffee. Some countries have opted to exhibit in the clusters as opposed to having stand-alone pavilions that will display a holistic depiction of a nation.

Nevertheless, having had the opportunity to attend meetings and roundtables held for journalists and cultural experts from the African continent alongside the IPM in Milan, it was interesting to listen to the organizers admit that Europeans knew very little about Africa apart from the negative portrayal of the continent they see in their media. They encouraged African journalists and cultural experts to bring out the positive side of Africa at the event. But of course this is not entirely in the hands of the media and the experts; it is dependent on each country’s appointed EXPO commission.

As the theme suggests, the EXPO is primarily concerned about food, and, an organisation conducting the roundtables and workshops for EXPO Milano reiterate this fact in their concept for this year’s IPM.

"2015 is a key year. It will mark the deadline of the UN Millennium Development Goals, approved in 2000 by the UN General Assembly, where 189 heads of State and Governments, and representatives of 23 International Organizations announced their commitment to halve hunger and poverty," reads the concept paper in a part "Many experts believe that 2015 will sign the failure of these goals and that millions of Africans will have to face food insecurity in the near future. But more recent success in the fight against poverty and increasing economic growth are a positive sign for change in African citizens’ lives and for the continent’s image."

The somewhat intimidated Italians pick up the baton of EXPO Milano 2015 from the Chinese who hosted the last World Exposition, the highly successful Shanghai 2010 two years ago.

"The Shanghai Expo has been, in terms of numbers, investment and participation, the most imposing Expo in history. It was a great event that will be remembered not only for the millions of visitors, but also for the spectacular effort to build mega pavilions, for the huge infrastructure put in place and the enormous organizational effort. The whole country was mobilized by the highest ranks of the central government to the people of shanghai: China managed the expo with extraordinary pride"

"Picking up the baton from Shanghai is therefore a great challenge. It’s a fascinating challenge, not for Milan, but for the whole of Italy," reads the introduction by Diana Bracco, President of Expo 2015 SpA in a publication entitled ‘Expo Universal Expositions from Port-Au-Prince 1949 to Shanghai 2010’.

One can only sympathize with Bracco and team, because they undertake this task as the Eurozone debt crisis does not seem to wane and according to media reports, the global grain and dairy prices are currently soaring.

As if that is not enough, some of the ‘bigger’ players on the global scene are yet to confirm participation in the Expo and are still not showing signs they will. However, over 105 nations have done so but only four of the eight event’s main sponsors are on board at this stage.

And in her address at the IPM, Bracco, told the delegates that "EXPO 2015: feeding the planet, energy for life" has a deeper meaning connected to women. She said women are the givers of life and it is they who feed the planet, so they should play an active role at the exposition and turn up in numbers. - Courtesy: Post Newspaper (Zambia)

Monday, 15 October 2012

Zambia National Arts Council system is rotten - Lange

By Andrew Mulenga

Former NATAAZ chairman, Edward Lange has backed art critic Roy Kausa’s recent call for the minister of tourism and arts, Sylvia Masebo to dissolve the Mulenga Kapwepwe-led Zambia National Art Council board for poor governance and lack of direction.

But Livingstone based artist, Lawrence Yombwe, one of the country’s most influential painters and CEO of Wayi Wayi Art Studios has questioned the timing of Kausa’s recent sentiments and has called for cohesion among the artists.

In an interview at the Lusaka Playhouse on Monday, Lange, one of the architects of a 2009 petition calling for reforms in NAC by a pressure group identifying themselves as Artists Alliance of Zambia still does not agree with the current leadership and described their system as “rotten”.

“The system is rotten; nothing good can come out of it. The greatest impediment with the national arts council is the director, he doesn’t understand how broad the sector is, he doesn’t inspire. If you look at the setup of a city council for instance the town clerk is a technocrat who is supposed to advise the Mayor. Similarly the director at NAC is supposed to advise the Chairperson, but this is not the case,” he said.

Lange accused the council of having no plan for several years now and questioned the usage of certain donor funds that he alleged have never been of any benefit to the sector.

Yombwe - Kausa jumped the gun
 with his remarks
“If we ask them how many arts cooperatives they managed to form with the ILO funding, its zero, so you wonder where the funding was going. The ILO project has not given out any results,” he said “Again if you look at the councils that sit in NAC, it is only the Visual arts Council VAC that appears more organised because you can go into the showground’s and find their offices at the Henry Tayali gallery. Although they too may have their own issues but at least you can say that they are established. Where do you find Zambia Association of Musicians ZAM, NATAAZ today?”

He said there is no way a big institution like NAC can run with no strategic plan and that this is why he used to “fight running battles with the council when he was chairman of NATAAZ.

Just last month I went to NAC to find out their strategic plan, they had none. According to the act they are supposed to establish an arts development fund to help train artists, send them to school and so on but only actor, Wesley Kaonga, a retired director in the ministry of community development and at least the benefits of his education have impacted the arts and arts administration greatly”

He NAC cannot account for their activities or achievements and wondered why they (board members) should still be paid salaries for doing nothing as well as flying the world on trips that he described as expensive and non-beneficial to the arts.

“Look at this place (Lusaka playhouse) it is under the ministry of agriculture and cooperatives, imagine? This is a prime area surrounded by hotels and it is supposed to have a gallery. But how can we, because NAC is not interested in advocacy for the arts. The Venus theatre in Kabwe was almost turned into a court by government, we don’t even know who owns it,” he said.

Lange however, is accused by some of having abandoned his fellow petitioners after he was compromised by accepting a job. He however strongly denies this

“I’ve never been given a job or compromised. The person I had beaten during elections (at NAC) was chosen as vice even after losing elections, then they called for a planning meeting the same day I was having a NATAAZ meeting and suspended me for not being able to attend,” he explained “I was forced to resign from NATAAZ, since then I went to help ZAMA come up with a strategic plan, I am also working with NAMA to help them also come up with a strategic plan, we are also helping senior artistes like the Laban Kalungas”.

The new government should reconstitute NAC as well as allow artists an indaba, where artists can give guidance to their minister.

Yombwe on the other hand disagreed with long tome friend Kausa’s timing as well as credibility on the subject.

“Like Kausa said we now have this new government and we are all waiting as artists, but this doesn’t mean people are just sitting down and doing nothing, it is unfortunate that he never spoke to anyone from NAC to find out what they are doing,” he said “he claims they are his friends, but after speaking to them myself I discovered he hasn’t spoken to them, if we start talking without facts even the minister will be shocked at what sort of people she has in the sector and it won’t take us anywhere. If there is evidence that the people are not working in NAC I have no problem with them being fired”.

Yombwe said it is artists such as himself and Kausa who should come up with something, and speak in one accord and that Kausa could have waited to see what developments are in the pipe line, noting that there are “people at work in the background”.

“And for him (Kausa) to say that the degree being offered by the Zambia Open University is a joke, he is not being fair. At least it’s an attempt to try and address the issue of art education which government doesn’t seem to have the political will. Is he saying all the professors teaching these students are not qualified? Nowadays there is even what we call e-learning, what is wrong with having distant learning students in art,” he said.

Yombwe said Kausa was the wrong person to say anything against the Kapwepwe-led council because in 2009 he was once on radio defending Kapwepwe when the Artist’s alliance rose against her and that his record as an administrator too can be questioned. As such it was better for him to keep silent than “cast the first stone”.

“This takes us just back to the old group, Henry Tayali and Akwila Simpasa who were scattered and never used to work together which is what has even caused much of the lack of development in the visual arts, which again is why we do not even have art at UNZA” he said.

With regards Kausa’s arts administration, Yombwe said the former’s performance at VAC in its early days leaves little to be desired, and that his current performance at the Twaya Art Gallery, a private initiative is not much to talk about either.

“Let’s come to Twaya. I’m disappointed with Twaya. Do they have a plan? But Kausa is busy attacking his friends that they don’t have a plan. I tell you if Twaya was organised you and I would not be sitting here having this interview,” said Yombwe.

In conclusion, Yombwe said as much as he is satisfied with what he is doing, unlike Kausa who will not admit it; he (Yombwe) is looking for a job.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

A moment with the godfather of wildlife conservation

By Andrew Mulenga

At a glance, one would assume that David Shepherd is the archetypal, toffee-nosed Englishman who can be polite even when being rude and must therefore be approached with caution and much rehearsal.

David Shepherd at the Zebra Crossing Cafe in
Lusaka with 'Luangwa', the painting he auctioned
to raise funds for Game Rangers International
On the contrary, he is a cheerful and good-humoured chap who is quick with a joke and ends almost every other sentence with a buoyant cackle. The world famous British painter and one of the world's most outspoken conservationists who has been bent on saving the planet long before ‘environment’ became the new HIV/AIDS with regards a global focus, was in the country for his annual elephant week events.

This year, he was here to raise funds for the Lilayi Elephant Nursery, officially opened by Dr Guy Scott last week, a joint project between his David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and Zambian charity Game Rangers International.

Nevertheless, a chat with Shepherd reveals that once you get him started about things in which he is passionate, you get more than you bargained for.

I’ve been coming to Zambia every year since 1964; it’s my favourite country apart from my own. I always feel like I’m coming home,” he says with a broad smile.

He then goes on to reveal how his whole painting career took off and how he almost by default became a conservationist through happy chance and good fortune.

“Well back in 1960, two things happened, before you were born, before most people were born,” he says bursting in to a chortle “It was through the Royal Air Force actually, I had never been in the air force, but they started flying me around the world as their guest because they wanted pictures and they would show me what it is they wanted painted.”

He was noticed by the RAF because he used to frequent Heathrow Airport with his easel and canvases to make paintings of aeroplanes in the 50s when he was merely in his early 20s.

Independence Day Eve, 1964 (oil on canvas)
by David Shepherd - Lusaka National Museum
“So I received an invitation to go out to Kenya with them, because at the time the RAF was in Nairobi. While in Kenya they asked me if I paint animals, because they had 25 pounds to spare,” he says "I said no, I’ve never even painted a hamster or a gerbil, and they said ‘but that’s what we want, we want some wildlife paintings’, so the RAF commissioned my very first wildlife painting and from that point I was so lucky and never looked back, my life changed from that moment, I started painting wildlife, I’m so proud to say that, so lucky.”

Installation of the president, 1964 (oil on canvas)
by David Shepherd - Lusaka National Museum
He says the other thing that happened while in Kenya was that he joined the game wardens with his wife, and while driving around the Serengeti they saw an incredible amount of vultures flying around and as they went for a closer look they found over 200 Zebra lying dead on the ground, poisoned by poachers who had poured battery acid into the watering hole.

“Now I’m a very passionate man, and I’m very emotional. I was so incensed when I saw this kind of thing it just sickened me to see that man can do this kind of thing to his fellow creatures; we are the most stupid animal alive,” he says  “I then thought I should do something about it and put something back. I was now earning a very good living through painting wildlife. The first painting I did for charity raised about 200 pounds but its some thirty years ago that I started the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and that has been going on remarkably well.”

The older he gets the more Shepherd realises how catastrophic we are on this planet and a man who made him realise this even more was the astronaut Neil Armstrong, who died a few months ago. Shepherd met Armstrong at a dinner party in Denver, Colorado where the first man on the moon was the guest speaker.

“I was introduced to him as a conservationist. He had no Idea who I was but it sparked an interest in him when he was told what I do. So he asked me ‘David you are a conservationist? I am too; you have to be if you’ve been to the moon and back’. Then he started describing how it was on his way back from the moon in his space capsule looking through the window at planet earth,” he explains “It was riveting to listen to this man. He (Armstrong) said he suddenly realised that man, the most dangerous animal on the planet is raping it, not just exterminating rhinos and tigers its everything, because they are all interdependent.”

Shepherd returns to talk about his wildlife foundation, explaining that it concentrates on the animals he paints, elephants, rhinos and tigers all on the brink of extinction. He says there are some marvellous success stories and that conservation in his vast experience has its high points because of some achievements or low points of utter despair because you wonder how far we are from destroying the planet.  He says it is a bit of both, 50-50.

“The tragic part is… and I can openly criticize them in any media, its South Africa’s attitude towards the black rhino.  They are not doing a damn thing to save the black rhino; two a day are now being slaughtered by poachers. The Chinese are flying helicopters to catch the last few, what the hell are the damn government in South Africa doing about it, nothing, it’s absolutely shameful,” he says, visibly infuriated and now at the very edge of his seat.

“But anyway like I said there are some success stories here in Zambia. The Elephant Orphanage project just blows your mind; it is the only other elephant orphanage in Africa. The latest development is very exciting; we have a transit camp here in Lusaka, a holding station for baby elephants before they are taken to the main orphanage in the Kafue National park. I was down there this morning all twelve of them were playing its pure magic,” he says.

Shepherd first came to Zambia on account of first republican president Dr Kenneth Kaunda, to immortalize the transition from British colonial rule in two paintings.

“I was commissioned by KK to paint the celebrations. I’ll never forget it, on the night of the event when the union flag goes down which it always does and another one comes up,” he says, again bursting into laughter “At that moment we were in the middle of the stadium with KK, the last British governor and a cameraman, so I did two paintings for independence they must be hanging somewhere I’m not quite sure”

The paintings in question are currently locked away in the vault at the Lusaka national museum and rightfully so because the museum does not have a security system that can safeguard these highly sought after paintings. So until a time that the museum will have closed circuit television (CCTV) and other security features it is a wise decision to have them locked away. Fortunately, the author had a chance to photograph them, and it must be noted that the works still are in pristine condition as if they were just painted. There was in fact an incidence in Livingstone where a painting was sliced off its frame with a razor while no one was looking

Nevertheless, Shepherd and KK have been friends ever since. He was later commissioned by Anglo American to paint a portrait of KK, but as president, Kaunda was always busy and the only time he managed was when he was in Mfuwe on holiday once.

Outside wildlife, Shepherd has a very unusual passion, hobby and pastime. When asked about it, you can visibly see him shed off decades from his 81 year old self with his boyish gestures.

“Oh dear, oh dear, that question just had to come. Well my two passions are steam trains and wildlife. In 1967, I had a very successful exhibition in new York then when I got back to the UK I bought a steam engine for three thousand pounds which I called my fifth daughter, it’s a very emotional thing, my wife and I have four girls, so she is the fifth,” he says again spurting out a giggle “it’s a very emotional thing a steam engine is the closest machine to a human because it responds to the way you treat it.”

The fifth daughter he refers to is called Black Prince, (not princess) but she is not the only train Shepherd owns, one of them is in Livingstone.

“When I painted KK in Luangwa I asked him if I could have one of the trains that were just rotting away in Mulobezi, but then he gave me two, one of them is in a museum in England and the other we will be riding in Livingstone tomorrow” says Shepherd. In conclusion, he says he has been told he is the only white Zambian living in London and he is proud of that, he is considered by many, the godfather of conservation.

And Talja Parkinson, general manager at Game Rangers International says as usual Shepherd’s trip was a success and that they managed to beat their K250million target to raise funds for a vehicle to assist with their educational outreach programme. Shepherd auctioned a single painting that raised half the amount, while the remainder was raised through the annual Art for Wildlife Competition which ran alongside a children’s art competition in line with Shepherd’s Global Canvas art initiative.