Vatsvairi Vamakwara (Trailblazers)

A moment to celebrate womanhood and its values in societies. Curated by Raphael Chikukwa

This exhibition was conceived mainly from our permanent collection, to compliment the Dis(colour)ed Margins exhibition that is curated by Fadzai Muchemwa and Tandazani Dhlakama. Vatsvairi Vamakwara brings together both male and female artists whose work interrogates womanhood and its values. 

These artists explored different mediums but all looking at a woman as a subject in their work. Arguably the role of a woman in societies is still not valued and these artists in this exhibition show the woman in different forms and postures.

There is a Shona Proverb that says, “Musha Mukadzi” (the woman is the home), Philimon Chipiro’s work, “African Home”, shows us that in this painting. Our renowned Sculptor Tapfuma Gutsa’s, “Woman of Society”, gives pride to a woman. This mixed Media sculpture is so powerful in its form and size.  Virginia Chihota’s prints on fabriano paper depict these two churchwomen who are proud of their church uniforms entitled, “Chokwadi Ndini here? Admire Kamudzengerere’s painting of two Muslim Women entitled; Goran Iran brings a diverse voice into this exhibition.  “Potency of Renewal”, by David Chinyama shows a pregnant woman and another work entitled “Maternity Leave” by Jamila Hava shows a mother and Child at her verandah.

Chantal Moret a Swiss artists who was in residency here at the gallery a few years ago left us with two works for our permanent collection. These two works show Zimbabwean women carrying their children on her back that fascinated her. These works fits very well in this exhibition, for this ritual creates a bond with the mother and child.  These diverse voices working from different environments, and in different mediums asking us questions about a woman, who is women, what role does she play in our different societies? Vatsvairi Vamakwara is here not only to celebrate the international women’s day but also remind us who a woman is. In our Zimbabwean culture the woman is key in every ceremony we do including during the rainmaking ceremonies, marriage ceremonies and many other rituals. A woman’s belongings are not to be tempered with before and after their death. In Shona we say, “Amai Vane Ngozi as Baba Havana, ukarova mai uno tanda botso’ loosely translated to say that the mother is more precious than the father and all slights against her are taboo and will result in bad luck.  

Looking back in the African history, it is important to celebrate women’s achievements, it will be allergic to history if we do not celebrate those women who resisted colonialism and championed change for the betterment of our societies. These include, Mbuya Nehanda, Queen of Sheba, Queen Nzinga, Nandi Chaka’s Mother, Cleopatra VII Philopatror of Egypt and others. Quoting from the 2017 International women’s Day theme, “Be Bold for change”. They did it in that era and what can stop you.

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