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Sango Edi – Giving Cameroon’s Makossa a Facelift

“The search for my identity as a Cameroonian inspired me to switch to Makossa.”

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Sango Edi - Giving Cameroon's Makossa a Facelift Asante Afrika Magazine
Recording Artist and Music Producer, Sango Edi. Photography: @gettoknow_mimshack

Born and raised in Buea, south-west of Cameroon, in West Central Africa, Sango Edi is a a recording artist and music producer who is taking the Cameroon music scene by storm. Currently based in Douala, Cameroon, Sango is making waves with his latest hit single, Moukanjo, which will have you nodding your head and feeling ‘some typ’a way’.

Sango started music in 2007, but his career as a producer began officially in 2010 when he started working as a music producer for a music studio which his uncle owned at the time. Before then, the singer and producer says he used to make music uncomfortably at friends’ houses, until he had the chance to run an actual studio – which became more of a learning process for him. “I wouldn’t say I learned music in school, I am more of self-taught, with plenty of assistance from my mentors, and of course, YouTube (chuckles).”

We caught up with him to learn more about his music and what inspires him.

Sango Edi - Giving Cameroon's Makossa a Facelift Asante Afrika Magazine
Sango Edi

You have been very passionate about assisting young people grow in their music careers in the region where you come from. What motivated you to take that path?

There’s an African saying which goes, “One hand no fit tie a bundle”, and I believe that sentence speaks for itself. We come from a place where people are selfish with ideas, and people want to only have the final meal from themselves, meanwhile there’s enough to go around. I have this personal saying that “Teach one person and you create a legend, but teach and uplift as many as you can, and you create a fleet of legends”. I mean, what’s better than one? Two, right? And giving back is my own way of thanking those who taught me and brought me up. If I don’t pass on the knowledge, then that would just make me a selfish person who doesn’t want to leave any legacy or create one. 

“I believe that as Africans, we need to start embracing our cultures and making sure that we have strong and solid core cultural values, because Africa was built on cultural values.”

You have switched genres a few times along the way, can you tell us more about that, and which genre are you focusing on now?

Switching genres was a way for me to find where I’m at now, which I think is the perfect place to be, because I am sitting on a solid rock that my forefathers constructed. I started off as a rapper before turning into a trap beat producer, then I had to start singing around 2012 when my long-time friend “Arrey”, forced me into singing. From there I decided to sing more and rap less, while simultaneously producing for others more than myself. The genre I’m focusing on now is Makossa, a very huge brand from this side of the world, and it is a genre which was once engineered by the likes of Manu Dibango, Kotto Bass, Sam Fan Thomas, to name a few. I chose this genre because it is my identity, it is a part of where I’m from, and it’s a means for people to know and understand where I come from, and be able to get inside my world. I could say that that’s what inspired me to get into this genre.

Sango Edi - Giving Cameroon's Makossa a Facelift Asante Afrika Magazine
Sango Edi

What or who inspired your decision to switch to Makossa?

The search for my identity as a Cameroonian inspired me to switch to Makossa, and one of my biggest motivators was/is Jules Nya, who is my ‘Artists and Repertoire’ (A & R), and mentor. He is a very monumental figure in these parts, and also one of the pioneers of Cameroonian urban music. He pushed me to find myself, and I’m grateful that I found the right direction during my search. 

“For hundreds of years, we’ve had generation after generation growing up to know and understand that the western ways are the right ways of doing things, and in that light, ignoring our core identity and cultural values.”

In your opinion, how important is it for an artist to have a manager who supports his/her dreams, but is also upfront and frank with the artist, and tells them when they think they can improve on their music?

I think that’s a very important and key factor to every successful artist. Having ‘yes-men’ around you doesn’t help you or anyone grow. If anything, one of the reasons I am doing what I am doing now and getting better at it every day, is because my manager and mentor told me straight to my face that the song I dropped before was “total sh**”, in those exact words (chuckles). I believe if people learn to be as real with each other as possible, the world (the arts industry especially), would be better and greater than it already is. 

Your current genre speaks a lot about your journey as a musician, and particularly your growth, self-awareness and appreciation of your ‘Africanness’. Tell us more about that.    

We come from a place where westerners stripped us of our identity. For hundreds of years we have had generation after generation growing up to know and understand that the western ways are the right ways of doing things, and in that light, ignoring our core identity and cultural values. We tend to copy from the wrong people and kill our own, thus barking up the wrong tree. I believe that as Africans, we need to start embracing our cultures and making sure that we have strong and solid core cultural values, because Africa was built on cultural values. I use this as a process of learning and finding out about myself and my motherland, as well as connecting with Her. It is very important for the African child to know the amount of greatness they carry, the amount of love and power buried deep within them, and the riches hidden deep beneath these soils we walk on. I grew up knowing another person’s perspective of Africa, which was completely incorrect information, and I wouldn’t want my kids and their kids to grow up in that kinda world. Africa is now. 

Your new single, ‘Moukanjo’, has done extremely well. It has a very deep meaning, and as you say, you didn’t want it to be ‘just another regular love song”. Can you tell us what the song is about and what it means, and what message did you want it to convey to the world?

The song MOUKANJO is a very communicative song, if I can put it that way. MOUKANJO, from where I am from, is a certain type of fish which was a delicacy back in the day, and was used mostly for important events and occasions. So I was/am expressing my love for a girl and telling her how important she is to me – as important as the fish was, or still is, from these parts. That’s the reason why the song has a water or ocean setting. It’s a way for people to not just listen to a regular love song, but also pick something from it while listening. I believe part of my job is to educate the youth and shed more light to their knowledge. 

How has the response been to the new path of music which you have taken?

Oh my, the response has been amazing. I am really grateful for everyone I work with; my team, my co-writer (who happens to be my mother-tongue coach and translator), and everyone contributing to this new journey of mine. It has been really beautiful, and I applaud everyone supporting me so far – ending out God’s blessings to each and every one of those people who took time to consume my music and connect with me. 

Sango Edi - Giving Cameroon's Makossa a Facelift Asante Afrika Magazine
Sango Edi

Judging from what we have seen on YouTube, the Cameroon music industry is quite ‘lit’, and there is a lot of competition. How do you set yourself apart from the rest of the musicians, and how do you maintain a unique sound?

First of all it’s key to note that we don’t do Afrobeat in Cameroon, but we generally do Makossa, Bikutsi, Bendskin, Njang and pop. Makossa is the most popular of them all. It’s an urban music genre from Cameroon with a rich heritage, as big or even bigger than Afrobeat at its prime. A genre that produced world-class acts like Manu Dibango,Sam, Fan Thomas, Ekambi Brilliant, Ben Decca, and Petit Pays. My music already speaks for itself and stands out – more like Pizza, you know. I figured that doing what you love and not what people want, sets you automatically apart from everyone else, and that’s a very soothing vantage, right?!

It is quite sad but common in Africa that even some of the best musicians do not make enough to earn a decent living out of their craft. You are quite blessed to have a job as a producer and audio engineer to supplement your income. What do you think we can do as Africans to empower young, upcoming artists and to raise awareness of the need to have other streams of income?

I believe it’s up to the youth to learn from the right people, instead of copying the ‘social media’ lifestyle which, of course, every youth that comes into the music or entertainment scene wants to live. It’s also up to those who are already there to make sure they educate the younger ones that there’s a great need for them to get regular jobs until their music starts paying, before they can solely depend on the music as a constant income. But even at that, we should learn to teach the younger people about investing and owning property. That’s how you stay winning. For some people, music ‘blows up’ fast – those are the lucky ones. But for others, it takes a longer time; so while waiting to get your big break, I will always suggest that you get something to do to fuel that musical engine of yours, that’s how you get to be twice as serious, because you know it’s literally your sweat and blood. That’s just my point of view.

You are so passionate about Africa and its talent and potential. Given a chance, which African country would be your first choice to visit and why?

Sango Edi - Giving Cameroon's Makossa a Facelift Asante Afrika Magazine
Sango Edi

You are so passionate about Africa and its talent and potential. Given a chance, which African country would be your first choice to visit and why?

Nigeria, no doubt. I love how passionate they are about their own things. They are very patriotic people as well, and they’ve just got so much which one can and should learn from. 

Which music or musicians from other African countries inspire(s) you, and why?

Burna Boy is always on the top of my list. It’s simple – he is an African man, a very conscious African man; exactly the type of person I would love to be – merging my musical Heritage with a perfect blend of my personal originality, and giving it back to the community. The late James Brown too; his performance energy and the amount of work and passion he put in his art as I read, was fabulous and extremely beautiful. He touched and still touches so many lives with his art, and he gave music that would last generations. That’s something to look up to. 

Sango Edi - Giving Cameroon's Makossa a Facelift Asante Afrika Magazine
Sango Edi

Usually in life it takes a long time for one to reach their full potential and to realise their dreams. What is your advice to young and upcoming African artists who are trying to make it in the music industry? And what advice would you give to those who have made it while young, in order for them to maintain their status?   

This advice goes to myself as well: “Every young artist, while struggling to get into the music or entertainment scene, should get a steady source of income. That’s the only way they can stay consistent in their art – invest in yourself, because you are your biggest product. For those who have made it, do the same, and invest and own assets, more than liabilities.

Photography by @gettoknow_mimshack

Connect with Sango Edi:

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0JCAQ_ixZEc0xtpoM9oMVQ

Twitter: @SangoEdi

Instagram: @sangoedi

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

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Features

Tanto Wavie | Founder of TrapSu, A Genre of Vibes and Reflection

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Tanto Wavie | Founder of TrapSu, A Genre of Vibes and Reflection Asante Afrika Magazine

The Zimbabwean music landscape has evolved in a big way during the past years we have witnessed the creation of new genres and new sounds. From the country’s infancy right through its maturity, we have been blessed with genres such as Sungura, Museve, urban groves, Zim dancehall. These sounds have played a crucial role in defining the culture and Identity of the Zimbabwean people. Our feature artist has done a remarkable job of fusing the sound of old, and the new sound of the times. We introduce to you Tanto Wavie

Zimbabwe is a country known for its hardships, corruption, and bad press overall. Through the midst of all these negatives, Zimbabwean art still thrives. As much as it is not lucrative for the collective at large most artists still find a way to release and make music. This one artist is no exception, Tanto Wavie is making waves through his music, no pun intended.

I first heard of Tanto a couple of years ago through a random YouTube suggestion of his song John Chibadura. This song is a tribute to the late John Badura a famous Zimbabwean Sungura artist whose music defined the fabric of the times in the early 80s to 90s, a legendary figure etched in the Mount Rushmore of Zimbabwean music greats. The intense base guitar Sungura fused with hip hop and Trap beats in a genius and flawless composition made me an instant fan. This was the beginning of a beautiful sonic relationship between me and this muso.

All his records laced with the vibrant and high-energy producer tag at the beginning of each song “chi beat cha Tanto,” translation “Tanto’s beat”, you know you are in for a treat. Many have tried to fuse or sample Sungura or Museve, only to produce mediocre results, leaving much to be desired. On the other hand, Tanto has successfully found the secret formula to this magic, in his cauldron he cooks up a concoction of a new brand of Trap and Sungura, cleverly dubbed Trapsu. He creates timeless jams I believe are still yet to be discovered and pieces that will echo through the passage of time. 

With releases such as Sungura Museve a pure non-skip album that features stand-out tracks such as Mudhipisi, translation a “cop out” or “straight up fool always killing the vibe for everybody”. Tanto narrates a story of an individual who’s always messing everything up when people are trying to live their best lives and have a good time. In true Sungura fashion, the songs on the project are very descriptive and comedic at best but trust me! the man’s projects are no joke, he is one to be taken seriously.

Tanto Wavie | Founder of TrapSu, A Genre of Vibes and Reflection Asante Afrika Magazine
SUNGURA MUSEVE – TANTO WAVIE

The album is also graced with Gems such as 007, Dzinga Munyama, Mabhachi ft Denim Woods with a killer verse, Heart Yangu a soulful Trap+Sungura+RNB just to name a few. After Sungura Museve he has dropped a number of projects and singles all bangers. The future is bright for Tanto and personally I can’t wait for the new drop this Friday “Wake Chaiye”.

In closing, I believe an artist like Tanto Wavie is the missing piece to the future of the Zimbabwean music scene. He not only embodies the heritage and legacy of a sound that carried and groomed a whole nation, but he also brings the energy of the present-day with artistic integrity and vigor. Tanto is one to most definitely watch out for. Zimbabwe, Africa are you ready???

Tanto Wavie | Founder of TrapSu, A Genre of Vibes and Reflection Asante Afrika Magazine

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Features

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!!

An interview with Moonchild Rye, founder of Moonchild District. An arts movement in Zimbabwe.

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Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine

HAZEL Q. LIFA

Creativity of the brain is low key blasphemy…

What do you do when the world doesn’t make it easy for you to do what you are best at? Give up and call it a day? A young poet from Zimbabwe turned to the avenue of innovation and created a space for himself and other creative like himself. For many creatives in Zimbabwe finding a space let alone an uncensored environment where one can express themselves and create is a challenge.

The African nation’s economic challenges have left the Arts sector in a bit of a bind as creatives are finding it hard to connect with their peers; find welcoming communities and realise financial gain from their artistry. Thus sadly many are leaving their art for more stable professions. But the resilience of poets like Moonchild Rye aka He of the Moon formerly known as Prince Rayanne Chidzvondo has led to the birth of a powerful alliance of creatives and a worthwhile business. 

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Moonchild Rye

Zimbabwe is heavily talented, the only problem is, how can the art industry thrive in a state where no other industry is functioning. It’s not a shock when people won’t pay a $2 ticket to hear you perform, to a majority, it’s soft life, a luxury they cannot afford.

According to Moonchild Rye, “The system is also very conservative, you find that they’re still hiring Albert Nyathi years after his prime has long been established, do you not think we have other poets in Zim? Either way, Moonchild District will be the change to all this. We will make it hard for them to ignore us.”

Poetry is not my calling; I called it in order to find ways to heal myself.

Moonchild rye

Moonchild’s poetic journey (pun intended) began as early as grade 7. Despite imaginable discouragement from family Moonchild Rye remained optimistic. Moonchild Rye proudly states, “I speak the audacity of greatness into my bones; my ancestor’s whispered a talent into my marrow that sings in my head and heart, my hand dances when it writes. I am the voice of a generation and the generation of this voice.”

Moonchild Rye started off his fast-growing arts movement in May of 2021 with Moonchild District’s Night of May, which was a huge success followed by a slew of sold-out Moonchild District events. We caught up with the poet/media practitioner/digital marketer/content creator.

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Moonchild Rye with guests at a Moonchild District event.

Can you take us through your journey to realizing poetry is your calling?

I started writing when I was 12yrs and performed for the first time for a crowd at a Highlands Primary School’s Academic Eve. Poetry is not my calling; I called it in order to find ways to heal myself. Writing is a process of healing, recollection and establishing a path back to myself. It is a lie if you ever hear someone say, “I write for people”. It’s only the adult in me who has chosen to become a full-blown storyteller but I speak my heart, my healing, and my purpose. I speak the revolution betrothed to my tongue way before I was born.

Do you have any particular cause or topic you enjoy tackling with your poetry or do you create as you are inspired?

I create as inspired, but I have generally gravitation toward issues of mental health and human rights. I’m also a bit of a love poet. Like I said, writing for me is healing. They are words, stories and poems that are razors under my tongue. The poems I resist dig deeper into my chest like a buried soul mate.

They grow blurry and distant until I can’t find the sharpness but I can still taste how it made me feel. The feeling of poetry inside me can be like a dull hunger, the distorted memory of a bite. I can’t explain my creative process, it’s like magic spread over time and I’ll be the closest thing to God. Creativity of the brain is low key blasphemy. We are all creators.

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Call Me Refined on the Moonchild District stage.

What was your first impression of the Zim arts scene when you started?

My first thought was “There’s no one or anything like me, they need me and my mark is different.” This was in 2015 when I stumbled upon my first open mic scene.

Zimbabwe is heavily talented, the only problem is, how can the art industry thrive in a state where no other industry is functioning. It’s not a shock when people won’t pay a $2 ticket to hear you perform, to a majority, it’s soft life, a luxury they cannot afford.

I also saw the hunger of many artists and in my head, it was always my father reminding me I would not amount to anything, I believed it because the people I saw were hungry, with guitars on their backs and Shakespeare’s sonnets on their tongues. I saw an industry I didn’t want to be part of, but it’s the need to do things differently that persistently calls me to continue pursuing my dream and the dreams of others like me. I vowed to take business to the arts, a work in progress still.

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Artists preparing to take the stage at a Moonchild District event.

Most of all, I found family. I found people who were willing to accept the difference I had been persecuted for. I found belonging. I found the oneness of my heart, mind, body and soul. I found that there were stars that stammered to lend us the words we lost in the darkness. I found I was a writer, a content creator, a creative, and a storyteller, I found myself closer to the things that gave me joy, I found a path and purpose. I found a light in the midst of darkness. 

You mentioned instances of censorship in Zim’s creative sector; care to tell us about the worst case you experienced? You don’t have to mention names.

Everyone is an active gatekeeper of your work because they are scared for you. They tell you what to say, or how to say it, they ask you to rephrase, to remove something completely, and not mention names. They remind you of so and so who went a similar way. When my mother hears me planning, she asks “Is this what you have really chosen?” not to say she doubts my career path, it’s the way she says it, the look in her eyes to say “are you safe?”

Artistes are not safe.

We are not safe from ourselves, we are not safe among ourselves.

We are not safe in the world.

No one is safe. Our minds are surely ours but our bodies? Our bodies have never belonged to any of us really; we suffer because of the bodies that house our gifts. We are the voice of a generation but the system will always find a way to silence us.

Your experience as a creative in Zimbabwe led you to create Moonchild District, what was the thought process behind its epiphany?

I was tired of gravelling for people to include me and see me. When people won’t give you a seat at the table, create your own fucking table, one day they’ll wash your feet and massage your guests. In other words, I am going for everything they said I’d never have or do. Moonchild District is the love child of rejection and determination, they know I’m unstoppable but people tried to make me feel small so I would reduce myself to fit their narratives.

Moonchild District is a movement of artists like me; we outcasts have to stick together.

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Moonchild District audience enjoying the masquerade event.

So far what is your favourite Moonchild District event to date and why?

Every show is unique in its way; we are constantly trying to outdo the last event. The masquerade, however, had us host our biggest show with the biggest audience. So I think it’s worth noting that our audience grows bigger.

Which Moonchild District event proved to be hard to put together and how did you power through?

I hosted a show where 6 out of 10 performers didn’t turn up. I had to open the floor to the audience; fortunately, this is how we ended up hosting open mics. The audience loves the mic just as much as we do. Also, the financial aspect of every show we host always has me sleepless and anxiously biting my nails. We are an unfunded movement, and it’s not pretty.

Specifically, who is the Moonchild District movement open to and how can interested creatives join?

Moonchild district is a movement, I merely lead it. For one to join, they simply follow the movement and drive us where their heart seeks.

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Ndanatsa gracing the Moonchild District stage

Where do you see your career as a poet and Moonchild District in the years to come, let’s say five years?

I say this on behalf of the whole group; we are trying to feed ourselves, grow ourselves, to just make it to the next day. 5 years is a long time, today is survival, and so is tomorrow. That’s what counts right now. There’s no blueprint to this life thing. I am a visionary who is still scared that I’ll die with my visions whilst everyone fights to stay alive well after I’m gone.

With Moonchild District’s business aspect, what do you consider yourself to be more of a poet or businessman?

We just want to earn money through our crafts like anyone else. Why shouldn’t the words that feed your soul pay my bills? Why do we represent our culture and creativity when it can’t even raise a morsel of sadza to the lips? We want money. We are also motivated by money. We also want to write, sing, and speak for money. We want to be taken seriously like everyone else.

Any thoughts on how to further improve Zimbabwe’s Arts space?

A lot still needs to be done. We still live in a world where it is not viable to be an artist. The economy quite sucks, it’s hard to create sustainable and consistent development. Artists need strong support and administrative structures to help them build and grow. They also need to come together to harness and create art collectively, whilst sharing resources, contacts and information.

Organizations in Zimbabwe would like you to believe they’re helping everyone by funding a favourite or regular, but the truth is a lot of artists are failing to sail off, even to begin. Resources, information and platforms are accessible to a few who use this for themselves whilst artists part of their movements or projects feed off ‘exposure’.

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Thando on the Moonchild District stage.

Everyone by now knows Exposure will not pay bills or feed you.

The government would like us to believe they’re helping. There’s no platform for poets, for writers, they care about sports and Jah Prayzah, the rest of us are unseen, no matter how hard we try.

The Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation established a relief fund for artists in 2020, but it’s not a full substitute for lost earnings. And as you may suspect, this was clouded with corruption and nepotism, just like everything else in this country. If Moonchild district can conquer these problems in the next 5years, we can be the leading creative hub in the region:

  1. Lack of resources to create, manage and commercialise creative art in youth consequently hindering growth and sustainability for creative youth in Zimbabwe.
  2.  Lack of guidance socially, financially and mentorship towards harnessing their creative energy from a young age, there is a need to fight the archetype of the broke creative which is a stereotype that has made many lose before they began.
  3. Dependency on informal labour and gigs in a demanding economy, leaving most creatives to abandon the creative economy chain.
  4. Administrative structures are also lacking in most creative groups. Most creatives fail from trying to be everything, from the leader to the writing, the script, recruiting artists, paying them and booking venues, accounts, reviewing their own lawful agreements etc. There are also no structures to mobilize these diverse creatives into hybrid content creators.
  5. Failure to adapt to the emerging social and cultural changes in media and production, especially in the Covid 19 era.
  6. There is not enough mainstream representation of creative arts and artists to communicate value proposition, most creatives are swapping their creative talents for priorities that feed them. There is not enough integration between creative art and communities
  7. The lack of hybrid, quality, competitive content from creatives because of a lack of resources to collaborate with other creatives or assemble production requirements and surpass its value. This hinders the growth of the Zimbabwean creative economy as content remains incompetent no matter the invested talent under limited resources.
  8. There is no support for creative start-up businesses and innovations, the government does not guide or finance start-up businesses and creative entrepreneurship.  They lack micro-enterprises that represent them as external entities that would like to support the creative sector in more substantial ways.
  9. There are no cross-sector partnerships to play an integral role in the effective use of the arts and creative industries for maximum promotion and productivity of the creative youth. They’re only limited to what they know, platforms that do not pay for exposure and cannot build sustainable growth beyond the creative industry.
  10. Creative youth are 3 times more likely to suffer from depression, there are fewer resources equipped to provide artists with mental health care and self-navigation, making drugs, unproductivity and suicide a commonality within creative communities. Art can be used for healing, as therapy both to the creative and their audience.
  11. The lack of spaces and platforms for artists to meet, socialize or work on their projects and gather resources. There are not enough spaces that allow their freedom of expression to build towards their highest potential, and surrounding environments are hostile and unaffordable for the average creative youth. There are no platforms for them to manifest their ideas and visions without in house gatekeeping. Artists need spaces and platforms that allow their wings to grow, that allows them to rise up to the task and excel in their fields.
  12. Creatives lack information that allows them to excel towards sustainable growth. Creatives who are empowered with business management and technical knowledge concerning their crafts are able to make wiser decisions concerning the direction of their art and how to build a successful enterprise from their work. They lack the skills needed to present themselves, build their individual brands and access the beneficial necessary information to drive them forward. 

Do you have any particular creatives you wish to work with and why?

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Chengeto Brown

Ah yes! Chengeto Brown – she’s poetry walking. Hope Masike  – I stan a legendary queen and Dudu Manhenga. Also, anyone else there making strides, poetry really can be infused anywhere and with anything. Take us to fashion, and music, we will be there.

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Hope Masike

Most think pursuing work in any form of the Arts is a waste of time, what do you have to say to that?

It probably is. I guess you have to allow me to fully find out, yeah?

According to Moonchild Rye, there are plenty of shows to look forward to from the movement. Look out for, A night in May scheduled for the 21st of  May 2022 (2nd edition) and Nyamavhuvhu scheduled for August 2022 (2nd edition). For more information on these and other wonderful events to look out for from Moonchild District connect with the district on social media: 

Moonchild District is in the Building and Propelling Young Artists Forward !!! Asante Afrika Magazine
Poster for upcoming Moonchild District event.

FACEBOOK – Ndi Rayanne or Moonchild District

Instagram     – ndi.rayanne or moonchild.district

Instagram     – ndi.rayanne or moonchild.district

Twitter        – @NdiRayanne

Connect with Hazel Q. Lifa: hazel@asanteafrika.net

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Art

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume

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Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine

I am sure we all can agree that the beginning of the year 2020 was a rude awakening wrapped in a global event for the books due to the Covid19 pandemic. Zimbabwean sculptor slash Lawyer, David Chengetai Ngwerume, took to his creative outlet to not only process but provide a map for future generations in the form of his work, ‘The COVID-19 Pandemic Collection’ that has taken the world by storm.

According to Ngwerume, art “…is a duty and calling…”

The 40-year old’s sculpting journey started in the humble communal lands of Musana in 1995 under the instruction of revered fellow sculptor Cosmas Muchenje. He continued to excel in his academic studies as well which led him to an LLB (Bachelor of Laws, Honours) in 2006 from the University of Zimbabwe.  

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine
One of Ngwerume’s pieces

According to Ngwerume, “Art is a duty and calling that I persistently continue using various forms mainly in Stone Sculpture in invoking thought into Humanity, share awareness with the contemptuous world.” Ngwerume’s sculptures have been exhibited all over the world from Hong Kong (China), Canada to the United States of America, and locally in Zimbabwe at the Hebert Chitepo Memorial. 

“My ambitions are global so I am in for it; it’s not always about where you are but where you are going.”

The sculptor’s ‘The COVID-19 Pandemic Collection’ comprises of pieces such as ‘MJ’ inspired by the pop icon Michael Jackson, encouraging people to mask up and get vaccinated. Another piece in the collection is called, ‘We are Torn’ which encourages people to sneeze into their elbows.

He is currently working on two other collections:

  • ‘Thy Next World Collection’ which addresses concerns pertaining to humanity as we move into the future;
  • And ‘Taking the Reins Collection’ which looks at the advancement of the world through the relationship between people and horses and their loyalty to humanity.

Ngwerume’s art is a reflection of the times and he is not stopping any time soon. He is also responsible for the iconic ‘Scales of Justice’ sculptures situated in front of the High Court in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare and the second capital, Bulawayo. We got to chat with the sculptor.

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine
  • The first question is probably something you get a lot, but I just have to ask; how did you manage to find yourself in the world of law and sculpting? To us laymen, the fields look so vastly different.

I am a hard worker and I believe staying in work in both professions has made me invincible. The modern-day world is driven by skill and knowledge and it is acquired by putting in more effort.

“As a creative I also can tell you inspiration is everywhere, everyday life is filled with endless sources of influence.”

  • Have you ever found yourself in a position to choose between the two (law and sculpting) or a situation where one had to suffer for the benefit of the other?

Never! My ambition has always been to do more and I believe amongst the many I do I can manage both. If anything my professions feed off each other in a way.

  • What is the intention of your art?

To influence change in this world and make it a better place through various mediums from Stone Sculpture, paintings, installations and various other mediums in portraying contemporary messages that invoke thoughts into humanity towards shaping their moment in times and make this world move towards positive thinking. 

  • In a past article, it is mentioned that you draw inspiration from your experience practising law; can you remember the first case that inspired an exhibit? Why did you find the case worthy of being your muse?

The first case I got inspired by was a Domestic Violence case. It motivated me to do a painting titled, WOMEN – STRUGGLE from the CRADLE. It was the extent of damage this particular domestic abuse case had inflicted on those involved that moved me to create.

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine
Ngwerume with more of his work.
  • In another article it is mentioned that you mostly use serpentine stone, why is that?

I use various types of stones in my sculpting, like Spring stone, Opal, Lepidolite and Granite. It all depends on the message I intend to portray.

  • Would you say you have any sculptors who either they personally or their work influences your work?

I am inspired by many sculptors like Michael Angelo, Gustav Vigeland and Dominic Benhura to name a few. As a creative I also can tell you inspiration is everywhere, everyday life is filled with endless sources of influence.

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine
  • Sculpting isn’t really popular in Zimbabwe, how can you say the sculpting scene is in Zimbabwe? Is there a support structure from fellow sculptors or it’s more of finding your own way?

Zimbabwe in a nutshell is about finding your way, but the upside of today’s world is that it’s a global village. In this global village, if you do your best, the world will always notice. My ambitions are global so I am in for it; it’s not always about where you are but where you are going.

  • Could you please try explaining to us the creative journey you took in creating your popular COVID 19 Gallery?

The COVID-19 Pandemic is a global event affecting us all, and as an artist, I found it prudent to play my part in capturing the moments and share my views on Awareness and Vaccination.

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine
Ngwerume’s piece ‘MJ’
  • In making the exhibit MJ, how did you hone in on making the sculpture about the U.S pop star Michael Jackson?

MJ was the first public figure to move around wearing a mask, and his actions were early warnings of our reality, where the air we breathe is not safe as before because of COVID-19. His messages then were foretelling.

  • According to New York-based art dealer Shingirai Mafara, your pieces are going to be part of the United Nations World Health Organisation permanent collection. Such an achievement, congratulations! How does knowing your work will live on long after you are gone feel? One could call it time travel of sorts, conversing with future generations.

I believe art is a reflection of perception and I am grateful for such higher strides being attained through my ingenuity. It is humbling to know that my work will inform, maybe even inspire future generations all over the world.

  • How has it been coming into contact with big art dealers like Shingirai Mafara and do you think that has or will affect your style or subject matter moving forward?

Such dealers inspire my work and further my will to create and give me higher hopes that my art will be seen globally.

Mirroring The Times In Sculpture With David Ngwerume Asante Afrika Magazine
Ngwerume’s piece, ‘Halt Child Marriages’
  • Your most recent exhibit, “Halt Child Marriages” is definitely one for the times. As a man, where do you think the root problem lies in Zimbabwe’s child-bride pandemic?   

The issue when it comes to child marriages is pure ugly GREED. The greediness in those men is uncalled for, it’s dirty, it’s illegal and it is immoral to view the young Girl Child as an object. We need to right such wrongs, and I am more than happy to lend my artistry to the cause.

(All pictures used are courtesy of David Ngwerume’s Facebook)

Interviewed by Hazel Lifa

hazel@asanteafrika.net

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