Art for the public
Mwandale and Minzi from Tanzania

“I want to be remembered for something when I’ve passed, not die like a dog with nothing to show for….” Mwandale ascertains passionately as she talks of her motivation in producing artworks for the public.

Mwandale Mwanyekwa 37 is a sculptress from Mtwara, Tanzania with over 15 years experience in her craft. Commonly referred to as Big Mama, ironic as the spirited lady has a petit figure perhaps it’s her hair which is mostly seen in a big hair wrap.

Catching up with her, it was to learn she had recently finished a commission for two big (over 10ft) sculptures for a newly constructed resort hotel ‘Ramada’;situated in Jangwani Beach on the coastline of Dar es Salaam. The pieces are in the main lobby and as seen in the photo they’re sizeable. 

“The job took about 3 months plus I had two artist assistants otherwise it could have taken longer…” Mwandale went on to explain the pieces titled ‘Mwanzo’ and ‘The Now’ where the former tells of the origin of man in Africa; while the later depicts human kind as is today with its burgeoning diversity in culture and preoccupations. 

I as well caught up with Thobias Minzi commonly referred to as Minzi Mims; he’s another fine artist whose works can be seen in a public space in Dar es Salaam. As you enter the emergency room of the busy national hospital Muhimbili, you’ll be met with two of his artworks. Acrylics on canvas they were commissioned back in 2009 by the hospital. As well he’s been commissioned to work on bill boards up country for campaigns on AIDS by T-Marc under USAID.

Minzi a self taught fine artist (painter) from Kigoma, Tanzania with 12 years experience.His fascination and talent with color has seen him participate in numerous exhibitions & workshops, sponsored by various art stakeholders in the country including. ‘The East Africa Art Biennale painting workshop held at the National Museum by Jean Goubles in 2005. Which he credits “It was my first workshop…seeing how to involve more texture in a painting inspired me to evolve my own style…”

In Tanzania there’s still a low appreciation of fine art by the locals ensuring our urban spaces lack art. Resulting in cases like Mwandale whose works is gracing urban public spaces in countries like China.In Changchun at the city’s sculpture park one will find two of her works ‘Breast Cancer and Injustice’ made from Bronze and Stainless Steel respectively. In Gabon at the Ministry of Culture a wood sculpture ‘Snake Bird’ can be found. 

Yet in her home country her works aren’t in equivalent public domain. However she’s been commissioned by the government through the Foreign Affairs office in 2013 for 4 sizeable sculptures all in ‘Ujamaa’ style this for the Smart Global Dialogue held in DSM in the same year.

Minzi’s works can as well be found at the State House with other reputable artists, inside the current Prime Minister’s residence as well inside Peacock Hotel.