The beauty in campaign art

Good People, we are into 2019, and with January, that hectic political promotion period again when our domains vibrate from the din of political shouts.

Amid sips at bars, sermons in church, tea at restaurants or tears at burial sites, tongues wag loose and the social slate gets more than requested. 

It is so easy to shut ears out to the party-political verses traversing our oblongata in this time of ear-splitting venom-scented political vuvuzelas!

But from a window of art, the campaign period should never be a period of distress or growing hatred, but a sweet stretch of time for the execution of inventive pieces.

Be not cheated that Malawians have no right to a bite of such political art pizzas! We have stories to tell as well as the dental art power to enjoy the menus, even at the highest heights of foreign soils!

That is why Malawi’s ‘art ambassador,’ the multi discipline visual artist Massa Lemu did not wait for January 2019 to turn up with his visibly politically inspired project ‘He Who Gave Us Teeth Should Give You Art to See: A Patois Bourgeois P.artyManifetso.’

The project, as witty as it is provocative, is a tongue-in-cheek artistic summation of a typical African campaign period as ‘one of deceit and plastered with the exclusive league’ staking time off their golden tables to while down to common grazing grounds to win support.

Whatever you make of Lemu’s line, his art is a work of wonder. In his world of art, he ‘forms’ his own political outfit called‘Patois Bourgeois P.arty’ whose life through the campaign trail negotiates the bends of the not-so-absent happenings of the period, including trickery and beliefs about Juju!

Lemu’s work, inspired by elections and campaign in particular, has attracted lots of patrons and evaluators in the distant lands across the seas where he is now plying his trade. The project has won good adjectives and with them Malawi it makes to world of applause.

Lemu’s case is only a decorated fingernail on a hand that is an art-rich campaign interval!

I, therefore, look forward to mimickers who with no malice or ridicule [but just art!] ‘sweetly impersonate’ Malawi’s presidents, past and present, to come up with educative, informative and entertaining art.

Let’s have them, in borrowed voices, record messages encouraging a non-violent campaign period!

Nkolokosa Township in Blantyre boastsof  an artist who, beyond his audio and language challenges, communicates his mind through portraits of leaders past and present. What does he have in store on the road to May 2019? Can he, through his strokes of pencil and hired by befitting organisations, speak for people with challenges on matters that affect them in elections?

Do you remember the great political party music composers of the Mbumba za Kamuzu era? What about Mai Chiponda of the unmatched Sendera fame? Why none of the arts awards have not honoured them is beyond my understanding.

What about Lucius Banda and his Yellow song?

Isn’t campaign then beautiful for arts?  

Do you remember the departed stage drama magicians Du Chisiza Junior and Gertrude Kamkwatira who used to bewitch audiences with politically centred acts too rich in direction and democratic debate? What would Du or Gertrude throw on stage today? I leave that to your imagination!

Would you, therefore, wake up one morning to curse the pedestal that is art on a road that is a campaign period? n

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