Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC) arts and education programmes manager Constance Thyangathyanga says a free art exhibition by cartoonist Haswell Kunyenje has bestowed prestige and honour on public figures.
Through his month-long exhibition which started on Saturday, Kunyenje has produced 25 portraits of some influential figures who, over the years, have informed opinion, shaped perception and contributed to the country’s narrative.
Thyangathyanga said the cartoonist has elevated the public figures to a new level.
“Art is an important medium for expression and I think it is important that we should be able to recognise and celebrate the people that we have in our society while most of them are still with us. It is important to have them immortalised,” she said.
Thyangathyanga said the art exhibition will be refreshed this evening during their weekly Malawi Music showcase as they want to give a special spotlight to the artist.
A patron, Olivia Monomba, also shared Thyangathyanga’s sentiments.
She said: “It is such an honour that some individuals who have the ability within our societies remember and appreciate what others have done too.”
For years, Kunyenje has been known for comic cartoon strips that have brought humour and subtle lessons in equal measure but he has now delved into his serious artistic cupboard.
The artist, better known for his artworks such as Fingo and Cheka Cheka published in Times Media Group newspapers, said the purpose of the exhibition is to recognise and appreciate some of the people who have inspired the nation.
He said some individuals helped him to come up with a list of people who have excelled in their fields of work and expertise.
“I derived this idea from an international magazine which fronts 100 influential people in the world. I thought what if I come up with a local version of influential figures. From the suggestions that were brought forward I then came up with a final list,” he said.
Among the public figures on the list are President Peter Mutharika, Vice-President Saulos Chilima, former presidents Bakili Muluzi, Joyce Banda, Malawi Congress Party president Lazarus Chakwera and United Democratic Front president Atupele Muluzi.
Others are netballer Mwawi Kumwenda, musician Patience Namadingo and Prophet Shepherd Bushiri.
Proceeds from the exhibition will go towards the fundraising drive for the Blantyre Cartoon Club which he helped establish in 2014.
Kunyenje said: “We embarked on a mentorship programme targeting school going aspiring cartoonists. Due to lack of resources we could not continue, but the youngsters keep asking for the lessons so the idea is to assist them realise their dreams.”
Previously, other renowned local cartoonists such as Ralph Mawera and the late Brian Hara have also held their art exhibitions. n