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Culture & Tourism: Buhari lauds Ooni’s peace initiatives as Brazilians, Caribbeans storm Ile-Ife for Olojo Festival 2022

President Muhammadu Buhari has applauded the peace initiative of the Arole Oduduwa & Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, describing him as a major stakeholder responsible for the peace and tranquility currently being enjoyed in Nigeria.
Represented by the Minister of Interior and former governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, President Buhari made the commendation on Saturday before the mammoth crowd that gathered at the Ile Oodua Palace of Ife to celebrate the annual Olojo festival in the ancient city with the African foremost monarch, people of the kingdom and the Oduduwa race worldwide advising that Nigerians should be sensitive to their security and not leave everything for security agents.
“We are collectively responsible for the provision of security. The government will do its own while the people should also support the security agencies. We should report any suspicious move or person in our environment to the security agents.
“I appreciate Ooni’s effort in ending insecurity in Nigeria. Collectively, we will end insecurity in Nigeria.”
On the annual festival, the President recalled that Olojo and other festivals in Yoruba land in the olden days are used to showcase harvest and productivity in the agricultural sector and not just for fun or merriment.
“Olojo festival was an event in the olden days to showcase farm produce, profits made in farming, and agriculture at large.
“It will gladden my heart if Nigerians could restore the old glory of farming; this Olojo festival too should also bring back the old days of showcasing farm produce, hard work, and good character.
“The festival should not be for merriment alone. Merriment should come after work. There should not be merriment without work. Working is the antidote to poverty.” Aregbesola said.
In his statement signed by Director, Media & Public Affairs, Otunba Moses Olafare. It was noted that Ooni Ogunwusi who doubles as Co-chairman of, the National Council of Traditional Rulers of (NCTRN) reflected on the economic and security state of the nation with a vow to remain steadfast and committed to preserving the Oduduwa legacy of festivals like Olojo to inspire the economic and security solutions for Nigeria and Africa using cultural tourism as veritable tools.
“Anchoring the mantle of the Olojo Festival is the ideal fit for mending our nation’s brokenness. When we turn on the news, read the newspaper, or look at our social media feeds, we see brokenness. We are a broken people in a broken country. We are under broken political systems, governance, education, healthcare, security, religion, etc. Through the lenses of our existence, we don’t have to look far to see brokenness which is reflected in our interactions, conversations, sense of recognition, and support for our young people.
“Olojo dispenses the rich nuances of the past as well as the unforgettable contributions of our forefathers to our existence and greatness.
“At this historic intersection, our traditions and heritage have given birth to modernity and will continue to lighten our paths from the darkness. I’m steadfastly committed to preserving, inspiring, and distinctively igniting a desire for the sustenance of their age-old meaning as they continue to serve as our precious treasures.” Ooni said.
In the same vein, Osun State Governor, Alhaji Adegboyega Oyetola, congratulated descendants of Oduduwa for witnessing the prominent festival, commending the Ooni for preserving the prestigious Yoruba culture.
Represented by his Deputy, Benedict Adegboyega Alabi, the Governor said, “As a government, we remain committed to our electioneering promises and we won’t renege on our pledge to make life better for all.”
Similarly, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Jamaica and the Caribbean, Ambassador (Mrs.) Maureen Tamuno, stated that a lot of people in the diaspora particularly in the Caribbean have traced their roots back to Nigeria and festivals like Olojo will be instrumental to reuniting them with their kinsmen.
The event which was witnessed by numerous traditional rulers, chiefs, business tycoons, political office holders, international tourists, and observers from countries like Brazil, Cuba, Jamaica, and America, had the Ooni who was flanked by his beautiful queen, Olori Mariam Ajibola Ogunwusi and members of the royal (Giesi) family at the centre of the crowd.
Olojo festival connotes a strong indication of God’s creation and the day of the first dawn on earth, it is celebrated annually in Ile-Ife by all descendants of Oduduwa globally.
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ENTERTAINMENT: AFRIMA 2022 voting starts Sunday September 25

The voting portal for the 2022 edition of the All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) will be opened on Sunday, September 25, at 21:00 (CAT),  to the public, globally, to decide the winners of each of the 39 award categories.

The International Committee of the All Africa Music Award (AFRIMA), in conjunction with the African Union Commission (AUC), made this announcement, on Friday, encouraging African music lovers to vote intensively using the voting portal live at www.AFRIMA.org, before the portal closes on December 10, 2022, which is the eve of the awards.

More information on the voting process, which would also be audited by the International auditing firm, PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PWC), can also be found on the website, as well as AFRIMA’s social media (Instagram/TikTok – @Afrima.official; Facebook – Afrimawards; Twitter – @afrimaofficial).

Like it did at the AFRIMA 2021 edition, the PWC, which has audited other major global awards including the Oscars, will audit the voting portal, collate the votes and present them at the awards.

According to AFRIMA’s Executive Producer/President, Mike Dada, “AFRIMA’S core values of FACE IT – Fairness, Authenticity, Creativity, Excellence, Integrity and Transparency remain at the heart of our operations. With PWC, we are further reinforcing these value drivers, ensuring that we remain as inclusive, credible, and authentic as always.”

Recall that the list of nominees was unveiled globally last Wednesday, revealing 382 nominations across all 39 categories. The nominations, which have been greeted with positive acclaim across the world, are the fruit of a rigorous 10-day adjudication held by AFRIMA’s 13-member jury, in July. Also, only entries within the validity period of August 20, 2021, to August 5, 2022, were considered for nomination for this year’s awards.

As the ultimate recognition of African music, globally, we are a source of inspiration to both music gatekeepers and music lovers across the entire industry

According to AFRIMA’s Executive Producer/President, Mr Mike Dada, the awards body remains the ultimate recognition of African music globally, also serving as a muse to other award bodies across the continent.

“We are not oblivious to the fact that there are some other award bodies that copy our nominations every year. As the ultimate recognition of African music, globally, we are a source of inspiration to both music gatekeepers and music lovers across the entire industry. AFRIMA continues to blaze the trail in celebrating African talent and developing our creative ecosystem, and this year’s edition is a step further in that direction,” he said.

On her part, the African Union Commission’s Head of Culture, Mrs. Angela Martins encouraged music lovers to vote decisively and objectively.

She said, “We have done our part. It is left to you the fans to now decide your winners. Remember that these categories are highly competitive and are based on merit. Let your votes help the best person(s) emerge as champion.”

2022 All Africa Music Awards will now be held from the 8th to 11th December 2022. A special announcement will be made on the host country and location for the awards, on 30th September 2022.

The AFRIMA awards ceremony will feature a 4-day fiesta of music, glitz, and glamour aimed at celebrating Africa, recognizing talents and expanding the economic frontiers of the culture and creative industry on the continent. The event is scheduled to commence with the welcome soiree, followed by the AFRIMA Music Village, the host city tour, Africa Music Business Summit, and the exclusive nominees’ party and concluded with the live awards ceremony broadcast to over 84 countries around the world.

African music lovers can take part in the events on social media, live stream on the AFRIMA website at afrima.org and visit the social media platforms (IG/TikTok – @afrima.official; Facebook – Afrimawards; Twitter – @afrimaofficial; LinkedIn – AFRIMA) ), and they can watch the event coverage by tuning in to their local and cable TV providers.

In partnership with the African Union Commission, AFRIMA is a youth-focused music platform that recognizes and rewards the work and talents of African artists across generations.

AFRIMA primarily stimulates conversations among Africans, and also the rest of the world, especially on the potential of the creative arts for fostering real human enterprise, as well as contributing significantly to social cohesion, as well as sustainable development in Africa. The Programme of events is in line with the AU Agenda 2063 which outlines Aspiration 05 as the development of the arts and culture sector including its cultural and creative industries, to boost the development of the African economy

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AfricaCulture & Tourism

South Africa: Zulu reed dance festival returns to keep tradition alive

As twilight nestles behind the mountains in Nongoma town, the birthplace of South Africa’s ethnic Zulu group, thousands of young women bathes in a cold, shallow river.

Bare-breasted, the gleaming young women wearing in colourful traditional beads, pick up reeds which they will carry as they file past the newly crowned Zulu king MisuZulu Zulu.

The King emerges from a tight circle of Zulu warriors to accept his first-ever reed as the new monarch, smiling as the crowd sings unending praises.

Every September – the start of southern hemisphere spring, tens of thousands of women, known locally as maidens, participate in the “reed dance” in KwaZulu-Natal province which opens into the Indian Ocean.

It is an age-old annual ceremony in celebration of sexual purity and the promotion of sexual abstinence among young girls.

The ceremony is a traditional rite of womanhood, rooted historically in an occasion for the king to select new wives among his subjects.

The 47-year-old new head of South Africa’s largest ethnic group is also known by his official title as MisuZulu kaZwelithini.

He was recognized as monarch at a traditional ceremony last month following the death last year of his father King Goodwill Zwelithini, who had reigned for 50 years.

This year’s festivities were eagerly awaited.

It is the first time the dance is taking place since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, and MisuZulu’s first time to preside over the reed dance.

‘Excited’

It is also 16-year-old Amahle Shange’s first time attending the festival.

“I had always seen older girls going to ‘umhlanga’ (reed dance) and found myself so curious,” she told AFP as she walked away from the river with her friends.

“I am excited to be here for the first time, I can’t believe it’s finally happening and I’m seeing things I’ve never seen before”.

The “reed dance” was abolished for several years but revived in 1984 by MisuZulu’s father.

This year’s event is however clouded by an ongoing succession battle.

One faction of the royal family believes MisuZulu is the rightful heir as his late mother, Queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu the third queen consort and sister to Eswatini King Mswati III, was a royal princess.

But Prince Simakade, the late king’s first-born son who was born out of wedlock, has been championed by dissenting relatives by virtue of being the late king’s eldest son.

Prior to the reed dance, the participants had their genitalia inspected, a practice condemned by rights advocates who say it is demeaning and an invasion of privacy.

Traditional doctor and virgin inspector Nomagugu Ngobese defended the practice, saying it’s accepted across different societal classes.

“I’ve got teachers here, engineers, they have cars; there are attorneys, which goes to prove wrong those who say our culture is outdated,” she told AFP.

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AfricaCulture & TourismEntertainmentEventsNews

Culture & Tourism: Party-lovers throng Nyege Nyege festival in Uganda

The Nyege Nyege festival delivers on its promise: Days and nights of partying and merrymaking.

Party-lovers from all over the world have trooped to Uganda to attend the percussion-filled fest with over 300 artists drawn from across the world.

The event is back after a three-year break prompted by the pandemic.

Taking place on the banks of the river Nile in eastern Uganda, this year’s edition has attracted some 12,000 revellers.

The east African country is also using the event to market its tourism.

“It is actually my third time. I always do Nyege Nyege, I like the fun, I like the crowd, I like how it’s different, I like how… the energy. If you know, you know,” said Sarah Mutesi, a festival goer.

Set in the picturesque countryside, the event has gained both notoriety and fame in the culture and entertainment industry.

With a week to go, Uganda’s parliament attempted to ban the event after lawmakers accused organizers of promoting immorality.

But the members of parliament were overruled by the country’s executive.

Africanews*

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AfricaCulture & TourismEconomy

Culture & Tourism: Africa’s Hospitality Sector set to Soar – Experts

As the South African and broader African hospitality market continues to recover post-Covid-19; investment and development activity is set to ramp up as the sector evolves post its biggest ever crisis, comments notes industry expert Wayne Troughton, the CEO of HTI Consulting.

“There are various themes and trends that are hot right now, especially as the industry rebounds and leading players reposition themselves from a product, planning, funding, and development pipeline perspective”, he says.

Some of the most notable trends for him are how the operational and investment landscape has shifted post the pandemic; how markets and products are adapting to these changes and what the recovery and forward bookings are looking like for the upcoming season, adds Troughton.

“One of the key questions we hope to answer is what the recovery and forward bookings are looking like currently and for the upcoming season. HTI Consulting are conducting research with tour operators, travel agents, and hotel operators, the results of these surveys will be presented at the Hospitality Forum and will be discussed in a panel discussion with key influencers and champions in the sector.”

“As Covid-19 has changed the way we think and to a certain degree how we work and travel, it is important to understand what new products have emerged and how existing brands have adapted to these changes especially moving forward,” he says.

Adding that Covid has also put significant pressure on cash flows that has resulted in the restructuring of debt and equity structures, and may also result in longer-term changes to how projects are evaluated and financed in the future.

Troughton’s comments come ahead of the inaugural API Hospitality Forum on 22 September in Jo’burg (https://bit.ly/3er748T), which will provide insight into this fast-moving and exciting sector for over 150 attendees by leading industry experts, global hotel brands, funds, hotel owners and others from across the value chain.

The API Hospitality Forum is a much-needed and credible platform for South African and African hospitality leaders to gather and network with the wider real estate community

Created in partnership with Africa’s leading property investment and development summit, the 400-person API Summit (21 & 22 September) and sponsored by Radisson Hotel Group & HTI Consulting, the API Hospitality Forum is a much-needed and credible platform for South African and African hospitality leaders to gather and network with the wider real estate community says, Troughton.

“Over the last few years, a large proportion of investors in hospitality have migrated from other real estate asset classes making it even more important to create this linkage between the broader real estate community and the hospitality sector. Partnering with the API Summit also makes it more affordable enabling the summit to attract a broader and larger audience who may have found other international hospitality conferences inaccessible in the past.”

Troughton’s views are reflected by Radisson Hotel Group’s Senior Development Director, Sub-Saharan Africa Daniel Trappler.

“The API Hospitality Forum will bring together industry players, stakeholders, and leaders to provide a renewed focus on the South African and broader African hospitality market. There is no better time to gain insight into these markets’ recovery, investment activity, and trends. It is an excellent opportunity for everyone to reconnect, network, and participate in this inaugural hospitality forum opportunity.

For Trappler, the hospitality forum can play a strategic role in its efforts to continue growing in what has been a record-setting year across the continent.

“The trend for Radisson Hotel Group in Africa in 2022 has been a focus on hotel openings & the group has achieved a record year in this regard. The post-pandemic hospitality market recovery remains something to be understood (especially considering the impact of inflation globally, particularly relevant here in the construction industry) and something to take advantage of, where possible. As Africa’s largest organically grown international hotel brand, RHG has both the experience & the flexibility to achieve both,” he says.

With an enviable pipeline across the African continent, Trappler also stresses the major role that hospitality plays as a lever of economic growth and also by providing meaningful and sustainable job creation.

“Hospitality is a key economic driver, employment creator, & focal property type in regions throughout South & Sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, our hotel development pipeline in the Sub-Saharan region has an all-encompassing focus, including hotels within mixed-use schemes, serviced apartments, and appropriately located standalone products – ensuring that our developments are a response to market needs as we continue to cement our position as the most diverse hotel management company across Africa in terms of the number of countries in which we operate.”

For the API Summit host, Murray Anderson-Ogle, the addition of the API Hospitality Forum to its industry-leading gathering is a continuation of its strategy to drive development across the real estate sector in Africa, as he ends.

“The API Summit is recognized as the industry’s biggest annual industry gathering and in 2022, we are pleased to welcome over 400 attendees to this year’s event. The addition of the API Hospitality Forum to our programme is part of our strategy to create experiences that provide meaningful benefits to our community of leading African and South African real estate players, as there is increasing interest and exposure to the sector by our community.”

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AfricaCulture & TourismEconomyNews

Four German tourists die in Namibian plane crash

A German family and their South African pilot died Tuesday when their plane crashed on takeoff on the river island of Impalila in northeast Namibia, local authorities said.

The four tourists were traveling in a Cessna 210, which crashed on one of the banks of the Zambezi River, police said.

“There were four occupants plus a pilot and all died on impact,” Inspector Elifas Kuwinga said in a statement.

There are many lodges in the area for safari tourists. Namibia, a sparsely populated country in South West Africa, is renowned for its wildlife and spectacular coastal desert.

 

Africanews*

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Culture & Tourism

Culture & Tourism: Pupils to wear traditional clothes to honour new Zulu king

Pupils in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province have been asked to wear traditional attire to school next Tuesday to celebrate the new Zulu king, Misuzulu kaZwelithini Zulu.

The provincial education department on Wednesday issued a circular stating that August 30 would be a day for schools to celebrate and honor the new 48-year-old king.

“It is in that regard that the MEC for education In KwaZulu-Natal, Mbali Frazer, is dedicating Tuesday as a day for schools and the department to celebrate this historic event.”

 

The MEC is also encouraging all teachers and all other employees to wear their traditional attire on Tuesday,” to celebrate the “historic event”.

Clothing is an important part of Zulu culture – and often includes colorful beadwork and animal skins.

 

Africanews

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Culture & Tourism

Culture & Tourism: The scared Osun river becoming increasingly toxic

Yeyerisa Abimbola has dedicated most of her 58 years on Earth to the Osun, a waterway in deeply religious Nigeria named for the river goddess of fertility. As the deity’s chief priestess, she leads other women known as servants of Osun in daily worship and sacrificial offerings along the riverbank.

But with each passing day, she worries more and more about the river. Once sparkling and clear and home to a variety of fish, today it runs mucky and brown as reported by AP

“The problem we face now are those that mine by the river,” Abimbola said. “As you can see, the water has changed color.”

The river, which flows through the dense forest of the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove — designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005 — is revered for its cultural and religious significance among the Yoruba-speaking people predominant in southwestern Nigeria, where Osun is widely worshipped.

But it’s under constant threat from pollution from waste disposal and other human activity — especially the dozens of illegal gold miners across Osun state whose runoff is filling the sacred river with toxic metals. Amid lax enforcement of environmental laws in the region, there are also some who use the river as a dumping ground, further contributing to its contamination.

Devotees of the Osun River goddess pray in Osogbo, Nigeria, on May 29, 2022.
Devotees of the Osun River goddess pray in Osogbo, Nigeria, on May 29, 2022.

The servants of Osun, made up of women mostly between the ages of 30 and 60, live in a line of one-room apartments along the side of the Osogbo palace, the royal house of the Osogbo monarch about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) north of the grove and river.

They leave behind everything from their secular lives, including marriages, to serve both the goddess and the king. They have little interaction with outsiders, allowing them to devote themselves fully to the goddess, whom they worship daily at a shrine tucked deep inside the grove.

Often seen in flowing white gowns symbolizing the purity the river represents, the women carry out various tasks for the goddess from dawn to dusk, from overseeing sacrificial offerings, mostly live animals and drinks, to carrying out cultural activities in the Osun’s waters. Some say the goddess heals them of afflictions when they drink or bathe in the river; others say she can provide wealth or fertility.

Devotees of the Osun River goddess prepare to perform sacrifices for a woman draped in a white cloth in Osogbo, Nigeria, on May 29, 2022.
Devotees of the Osun River goddess prepare to perform sacrifices for a woman draped in a white cloth in Osogbo, Nigeria, on May 29, 2022.
Devotees of the Osun River goddess prepare to perform sacrifices for a woman draped in a white cloth in Osogbo, Nigeria, on May 29, 2022.

One servant of Osun, who goes by the name Oluwatosin, said the river brought her a child when she was having difficulties with childbirth. Now the mother of two children, she intends to remain forever devoted to the river and the goddess.

“It is my belief, and Osun answers my prayers,” Oluwatosin said.

The river also serves as an important “pilgrimage point” for Yoruba people in Nigeria, said Ayo Adams, a Yoruba scholar — especially during the Osun-Osogbo festival, a colorful annual celebration that draws thousands of Osun worshippers and tourists “to celebrate the essence of the Yoruba race.” Some attendees say it offers the chance for a personal encounter with the goddess.

But this year, as the two-week August festival neared, palace authorities announced they had been forced to take the unusual step of telling people to stop drinking the water.

Osunyemi Ifarinu Ifabode, the Osun River chief priest, speaks during an interview in Osogbo, Nigeria, on May 30, 2022.
Osunyemi Ifarinu Ifabode, the Osun River chief priest, speaks during an interview in Osogbo, Nigeria, on May 30, 2022.

“We have written to the state government, the museum on the activities of the illegal miners and for them to take actions to stop them,” said Osunyemi Ifarinu Ifabode, the Osun chief priest.

Osun state is home to some of Nigeria’s largest gold deposits, and miners in search of gold and other minerals — many of them operating illegally — are scattered across swampy areas in remote villages where there is scant law enforcement presence. While community leaders in Osogbo have been able to keep miners out of the immediate area, they’re essentially free to operate with impunity upstream and to the north.

Men take a break at an illegal mining site in Osogbo, Nigeria, on May 31, 2022.
Men take a break at an illegal mining site in Osogbo, Nigeria, on May 31, 2022.

The miners take water from the river to use in exploration and exploitation, and the runoff flows back into it and other waterways, polluting the drinking water sources of thousands of people.

“It is more or less like 50% of the water bodies in Osun state, so the major water bodies here have been polluted,” said Anthony Adejuwon, head Urban Alert, a nonprofit leading advocacy efforts to protect the Osun River.

Urban Alert conducted a series of tests on the Osun in 2021 and found it to be “heavily contaminated.” The report, which was shared with The Associated Press, found lead and mercury levels in the water at the grove that were, respectively, 1,000% and 2,000% above what’s permissible under the Nigerian Industrial Standard. Urban Alert attributes it to many years of mining activity, some of it within 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the river.

Despite the drinking ban issued by the palace, during a recent visit AP witnessed residents trooping to the river daily to fill up gallon containers for domestic use.

The Osun River flows through the forest of the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, in Osogbo, Nigeria, on May 30, 2022.
The Osun River flows through the forest of the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, in Osogbo, Nigeria, on May 30, 2022.

Dr. Emmanuel Folami, a physician based in Osogbo, the state capital, said drinking the toxic water or otherwise using it for purposes that risk human exposure is a “big health concern” that could cause lead poisoning.

In March, the Osun state government announced the arrest of “several individuals for illicit mining, seizures and site closures,” and promised it was studying the level of pollution of the river and ways to address it.

But activists question the sincerity and commitment behind such efforts: “If we cannot see the state government taking action within its own jurisdiction as a (mining) license holder, what are we going to say about the other people?” said Adejuwon of Urban Alert, which is running a social media campaign with the hashtag #SaveOsunRiver.

Priestess Yeyerisa Abimbola speaks during an interview at the sacred Osun River in Osogbo, Nigeria, on May 29, 2022.
Priestess Yeyerisa Abimbola speaks during an interview at the sacred Osun River in Osogbo, Nigeria, on May 29, 2022.

Abimbola, a servant of Osun since she was just 17 years old, said the goddess is tolerant and giving. She thanks Osun for her blessings — a home, children, good health.

“Every good thing that God does for people, Osun does the same,” she said.

Yet she and others warn that even Osun has her limits.

 

Fishermen cast a net near a dam that sources the sacred Osun River in Esa-Odo, Nigeria, on May 28, 2022.
Fishermen cast a net near a dam that sources the sacred Osun River in Esa-Odo, Nigeria, on May 28, 2022.

There may be problems if the river remains contaminated and Osun “gets angry or is not properly appeased,” said Abiodun Fasoyin, a village chief in Esa-Odo, where much of the mining takes place, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Osogbo.

“The riverbank will overflow and sweep people away when it is angry,” Abimbola said. “Don’t do whatever she doesn’t want.”

 

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Africa

After70 years, Pioneering art collection returns to Zimbabwe

For the first time in 70 years, a collection of paintings is back in its home country: Zimbabwe.

The display at the National Gallery in Harare features paintings done in the 1940s and 1950s by young Black students.

They were studying at Cyrene Mission School, the first to teach art to Black students in what was then white minority-ruled Rhodesia.

For the first time in his life, Gift Livingstone Sango is seeing a painting by his father depicting Jesus as a Black man.

“This art is brought back home is what we want, so that when we are long gone, he is already gone, he’s already gone. What about my son, he doesn’t even have a son or a child, what about his children? What about the other artists who are coming from Mzilikazi Art Centre or all the art centers we know, from Mbare to Mabvuku. We are saying they must learn what happens when education was very very little. Look at the paintings and how bright they are, they are as bright as they were done 80 years ago,” says Sango.

Sango’s father went on to become an accomplished taxidermist working for the National Museum in Bulawayo, the second largest city in the country.

“The story must be brought back home, the heritage must be brought back home. That is really our story. We are hearing these sentiments that the government is saying they must be brought back. This will dry our tears,” says Sango.

A photograph of Sango’s father, Livingstone, as a young boy hangs next to the painting.

Overall, the paintings vividly depict tales of African folklore as well as Bible stories in an arresting intersection of African tradition, history and Christianity introduced by Western settlers.

And the artworks quickly won admirers, including Britain’s King George VI, who visited the school in 1947.

A collection of the work created at Cyrene school between 1940 and 1947 was sent overseas to be shown in London, Paris, and New York.

Many paintings were sold and helped to fund the school.

Later the paintings were stored in the basement of St. Michael’s and All Angels Church in London and over time they were forgotten.

“This is a collection of lost Zimbabwean artworks from the 1940s from an Anglican Mission School in Cyrene, called the Cyrene Mission School,” says Lisa Masterson, curator and director of art exhibition.

“It was opened and started by a visionary art teacher called Canon Ned Patterson. It is basically the first school in Zimbabwe (then colonial Rhodesia) to offer art as a compulsory subject to young Black students in the 1940s and Ned Patterson was a true believer that art could unite people. And that no matter what people saw in an artwork, it didn’t matter what color you were, or where you came from or what tribe you were from, art was a unifying factor.”

The artworks were rediscovered by a Zimbabwean who recognized the name Cyrene on the boxes when the church was being deconsecrated, according to a press release by the organizers of the exhibition.

He brought the paintings to the attention of others who realized they’d stumbled across a treasure trove of art.

“The Stars are Bright” exhibition has returned the paintings to the country, where many Zimbabweans will see them for the first time.

Photographs of some of the artists as young boys are displayed alongside the paintings.

“It’s a completion of my history as a Damasane to know the stories that my grandfather would tell through painting, through his artworks,” says Nomashekawazi Damasane, granddaughter of one of the artists.

“It’s also very important for me as an artist, as a creative, to know that our artwork is coming back home because it allows for people to know that it did not just start now. People started doing art way back. So it’s really important and I’m very pleased and grateful that this artwork is coming back where it belongs, to the people that it belongs to, and we the third and fourth generation of these amazing artists can actually see what our forefathers did before we were born.”

Many students from Cyrene school went on to become artists, teachers and professionals, despite the restrictions of white-minority-ruled Rhodesia.

In 2020, “The Stars Are Bright” exhibition showcased the works at the Theatre Courtyard Gallery in London.

Now, the full exhibit has come back home to acclaim.

Coming amid growing calls for the repatriation of African art to the continent, some say the Cyrene paintings should return to Zimbabwe permanently.

The organisers say they are negotiating with the Curtain Foundation, owners of the collection, for the permanent repatriation of the works.

The exhibition will be on until late October.

***AP***

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Arts & Culture: Horniman Museum to return Benin Bronzes to Nigeria

The Horniman Museum and Gardens in southeast London said that it would transfer a collection of 72 items to the Nigerian government.

The decision comes after Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments formally asked for the artifacts to be returned earlier this year and following a consultation with community members, artists, and schoolchildren in Nigeria and the U.K., the museum said.

“The evidence is very clear that these objects were acquired through force, and external consultation supported our view that it is both moral and appropriate to return their ownership to Nigeria,” Eve Salomon, chair of the museum’s board of trustees, said in a statement. “The Horniman is pleased to be able to take this step, and we look forward to working with the NCMM to secure longer-term care for these precious artifacts.”

The Horniman’s collection is a small part of the 3,000 to 5,000 artifacts taken from the Kingdom of Benin in 1897 when British soldiers attacked and occupied Benin City as Britain expanded its political and commercial influence in West Africa.

The British Museum alone holds more than 900 objects from Benin, and National Museums Scotland has another 74. Others were distributed to museums around the world.

The artifacts include plaques, animal and human figures, and items of royal regalia made from brass and bronze by artists working for the royal court of Benin.

Countries including Nigeria, Egypt and Greece, as well indigenous peoples from North America to Australia, are increasingly demanding the return of artifacts and human remains.

Nigeria and Germany recently signed a deal for the return of hundreds of Benin Bronzes. That followed French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision last year to sign over 26 pieces known as the Abomey Treasures, priceless artworks of the 19th century Dahomey kingdom in present-day Benin, a small country that sits just west of Nigeria.

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