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NGZ mourns Tengenenge founder

The National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) has sent a message of condolence on the passing on of one of the founding members of Tengenenge Community Art Centre, Josia Manzi.

Manzi died on Tuesday. He was 88.

In a press statement, NGZ executive director Raphael Chikukwa said “a dark cloud has hit the Zimbabwean art scene, one of the surviving founding member of Tengenenge Community Art Centre — popularly known as Tengenenge Village — is no more”.

“A larger than life spirit of Tengenenge Josiah Manzi is no more and he has joined the ancestors of the Yao people, other Tengenenge ancestors.

On behalf of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe board, staff of the gallery, Zimbabwean art scene family and all the Zimbabwean sculpture art lovers, I would to express our deepest condolences to the Manzi family, Tengenenge Village sculptural community and friends,” Chikukwa said.

“Go well abambo, wakwatu kuTengenenge (Go well sir from our Tengenenge), your work has such an impact not only to Zimbabwean people, but to the rest of the world. Anganga wakumpando you came and you made a huge impact and go well anganga (homeboy)”

Manzi started working as a builder, assisting his father, but in 1967 he met and began working for Tom Bloomfield (founder of the Tengenenge Art Community).

He had experience in carving wooden masks and Bloomfield encouraged him to sculpt in stone.

He was self-taught and most of his works are inspired by his spirituality, deeply rooted in his Yao culture.

He was of the Malawian origin, belonging to the Yao tribe.

Manzi grew up in the Yao which exposed him to the creation of masks, stimulating him into art skills at an early age.

He won several awards, including the National Arts Merit Awards.

He obtained an award of merit in Nedlaw exhibition in 1987.

He has works in overseas collections.

Manzi had lived and worked at Tengenenge Village and was one of the first generation of sculptors in Zimbabwe’s modern art scene.

He is survived by his wife Jenet, also a first generation artist, children and grandchildren.

Chikukwa added: “As one of the founding pillars of Tengenenge Village, he kept working and practicing the trade until his death on March 8.

His contribution to Zimbabwean sculpture is huge with lots of his work on permanent collection at the gallery and other spaces in Germany, The Netherlands and America, among many other countries.

“For someone who has not been well for some time and being an old man in his late 80s, we can only say rest in peace.” — Staff Writer.

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