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Zimbabwe: Tengenenge kids exhibit in Czech Republic
of a child's imagination is infinite. The International Children's
Exhibition of Fine Arts at Lidice in the Czech Republic (this year
in its 33rd year) brings together works of children from a world
which is no longer safe and secure for children. The Czech village
of Lidice was decimated during the Second World War when men were
shot, women and children were "taken away". The exhibition shows
the effects of the destruction, genocide and disaster upon children
such that in some instances it is hard to believe children did the
There is one
searing painting of a man whose face is blotched with blood, his
hands coiled around the face of his wife, like a snake, to keep
her from harm. Yet also shown is the part of a child's world created
by the imagination - forests with monsters and strange beasts, "hordes"
of cats, stalking like herons through the long grass, under a sky
with a tennis ball of a moon shining bright.
And so it was
that two sculptures from a place called Tengenenge in Zimbabwe in
Africa found their way to this exhibition and were commended with
awards. Tengenenge, indeed, is a place of forests and strange animals
and cats, which come down from the folds of the mountains of the
Great Dyke and hold their rituals of the night among the sculptures.
Jaroslav Olsa Jnr, Ambassador for the Czech Republic in Zimbabwe,
knows Tengenenge very well and has done much to merge Zimbabwean
art and that of the Czech Republic through books and exhibitions.
He sees the making of sculpture by children at Tengenenge as part
of growing up and knowledge of their culture, their getting to know
their parents who are sculptors. So the distance between Tengenenge
and Prague is shortened by two young sculptors, Lainu Josiah, (grandson
of Josia Manzi and son of the late Barcari Manzi), and Shaibu Josia,
(son of Moveti Manzi), whose works are being exhibited in Lidice.
says peace is the basic premise of a happy and undisturbed life
of children who need safety and security. This is the way for children
at Tengenenge who grow up with the comfort that their culture is
respected and allowed to remain part of their lives as something
they can reflect in their art. So it is for children at Tengenenge
as they carve their stones and eke out their purpose and mission
comments: "Art by children shows the world as they see it; a world
which is often a creation of the imagination; a world filled with
games children play, the funny things they do; a world full of animals
and nature. "From this exhibition, it is apparent that children
feel much the same about life from wherever they come. And far away
in Africa, the work of the two children from Tengenenge is about
peace and the need for a better world - just like any other works
from elsewhere in the world.
provides children with a chance to be naturally brought up, both
with life and with art, to see art as an everyday feature in their
lives. Sculpture is something they come to out of curiosity and
interest. It is what is around them every day. "At Tengenenge children
of five make sculptures. They work away on their stones as if they
have been doing so for 30
director, Tom Blomefield, comments: "Tengenenge has always been
a place for art education, not with classrooms and books and chalk
on the boards, but by way of children sitting on the ground and
taking sculpture seriously and not just playing around with their
stones. "The Manzi family are part of Tengenenge's history. They
are dynastic and ever present. Josia Manzi is of Yao origin, and
he tells the stories of Yao folklore so well in his sculpture and
with such humour. "His wife Janet makes plants in stone which flourish
in the heat of the sun and grow in answer to the sun's rays and
the white rain which covers the Great Dyke with gauze and bits of
father of Lainu, made a huge sculpture which stands like a monument
near the veranda at Tengenenge. "Moveti Manzi, father of Shaivu,
makes sculptures which are dark with mask-like faces that speak
of the secrecy of the Yao masquerades and the mystery of all things
With this exhibition
in Lidice, the children of Tengenenge can be realised as serious
artists anywhere in the world. This year the theme for the exhibition
in Lidice was "Happiness", an unusual state in the world today but
one which comes to children more easily than adults. From the work
shown, it seems some children found their happiness from their love
of animals. There is a painting of two giraffes with bright candy-coloured
spots flanked by two elephants - one misty white and the other sky
blue. There is another of a horse, surrounded by mirror images of
horses, twisting its neck. There is a dog with a warm wet red tongue
and eyes, which speak of contentment from food and warmth.
Lainu has made a sculpture of a face with eyes slit in the stone,
the mouth just a line dug into the stone and an expressionless face
like the faces in the Yao masked dancers. Lainu will wear his medal
on his chest as a reminder of how he "became an international sculptor"
in this fine exhibition in the Czech Republic.
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