AFRICAN VOICES : CONFRONTING THE FRONTIERS OF REALITY

The grand colonial programs that led to the fragmentation of a continent are a reality that we continue to ignore. Africa remains unable to listen and understand the importance of having a dialogue about this reality. The legacy of colonialism has been so influential that we have lost our identity. Self-hate is seen as normal.

The freedom of movement remains a dream in the Africa that was envisioned by the nationalists’ decades ago. Decolonization and the common passport remains another fantasy. As it stands, culture continues to feed from a ruptured world, and from a ruptured people.
The bane of the AIDS pandemic, Ebola, unending political and economic instability, is a shared concern in Africa,common to all. This is the reality that we live with today.  The systematic raptures between different African countries bring together a special significance of new narratives, narratives that can bring human development.
It is time to take stock of the past and present; tap into our social, cultural, economic and biogenetic transmutation realities that confront us every day and ask these questions: To whom does Africa belong? Whose Africa are we talking about? Where is our Africanness? Are we talking as Africans? Whose lens are we using to see and to talk about our story? Is Africa reading from long lost scrip? Its time we control our narrative and contemporary art is a medium that can lead us to do this. Today’s realities are painful to confront, for African youth are drowned in the Mediterranean sea as they look for a better life across Europe and others a humiliated at American and Europeans Embassies everyday. The so-called freedom of movement that they preach to us on their TVs and Newspapers is no reality.
Doreen Sibanda (2015) said,
Africa is a diverse continent with different value hierarchy and tradition where new ideas and values are constantly interacting, encroaching upon and modifying the concept of Unhu/Ubuntu. The contemporary artist in Africa is constantly in a state of ambivalence as he strives to navigate knowledge of traditional life and values with urban adaption, colonial and technology impact and global domination. The contemporary artist in Africa is engaged in a fight for a meaningful place in this urban space with its galleries, agents, curators and collectors, most of whom encapsulate and largely represent Western and European values .
This exhibition brings together artists from three generations to lend their voices from different perspectives about the African story, the story of our continent, the story that we need to continue to interrogate with its realities. Fifty-five years ago during the first International Congress on African Culture took place in the then Rhodesia National Gallery that saw participants in the exhibition that spanned the length and breath of the continent; the likes of Malangatana from Mozambique, Selby Mvusi from South Africa and many others. They were shaping the discourse of the continent then. Today we have a new generation of artists whose voices are contributing in the contemporary art making in Africa today. These artists are coming from both East and Southern Africa.
Nyadzombe Nyampenza one of the participating artists in his statement says,
The question “Where are you from?” can have a shattering impact on the psyche. Prompted by a ‘strange’ name, an ‘unusual’ accent, or the colour of one’s skin. It can easily escalate to “Where are you really from?” to be the other brings judgment and a heavy price to pay. For Emidio Josias Macia a Mozambiquen taxi driver, it was being dragged handcuffed to a police vehicle and later die in police custody in Johannesburg South Africa. Erased of Humanity scores drown in the Mediterranean Sea time after time – coming from another place.”
Terence Musekiwa’s “Vatariri” hanging in the Courtauld Gallery speaks of the spiritual world of Zimbabwe and how the ancestors are the overseers. On a different note, Moffart Takadiwa’s The Urinari/Chinjausi made out of found object is a protest against the dumping of obsolete technology and expired drugs on the continent. Mohau Modisakeng’s photographs in the same vein question the traumatic history of South Africa. Aida Muluneh’s 99series also question the idea of identity that we are confronted with as Africans and those that seek refuge in other countries looking for a better life. These are the realities that face the continent today.
These interventions in their small ways make Africa unique and the exhibition joins many other developments that taking place around the continent and abroad to change the narrative on and of the continent. Africa can become stronger and we can dream of the Africa we want In this exhibition, the artists brings in a new language from installations, to photography, paintings, mixed media and sculpture which Zimbabwe is known for. The participating artists are:Admire Kamudzengerere (Zimbabwe)

Evans Mutenga (Zimbabwe)

Mohau Modisakeng (South Africa)

Mario Macilau (Mozambique)

Ogopoleng Kgomoethata (Botswana)

Longinos Nagila (Kenya)
Virginia Chihota (Zimbabwe)

Moffatt Takadiwa (Zimbabwe),
Aida Muluneh (Ethiopia)
Portia Zvavahera (Zimbabwe)

Masimba Hwati (Zimbabwe)
Cirus Karubi (Kenya)
Peterson Kamwathi (Kenya)
Dineo Seshee Bopape (South Africa)
Sikhumbuzo Makandula (South Africa)

Chemu N’gok (Kenya)
Lilian Mugodi (Zimbabwe)
Cyrus Kabiru (Kenya)
Mulenga J Mulenga (Zambia)
Terrence Musekiwa (Zimbabwe)
Yonamine (Angola)
Gideon Gomo (Zimbabwe)
Sanele Omari Jali (South Africa)
Nyadzombe Nyampenza (Zimbabwe)
Lhora Amira (South Africa)
Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi (South Africa)
Ralph Borland (South Africa)
Mukudzeishe Muzondo (Zimbabwe).

© 2015 National Gallery of Zimbabwe . All Rights Reserved.