What Was I Going To Be If Not An Artist?

I was born in a rural village in Buhera in 1983.  Our family was based in Hwange at that time, where my passion for adventure was born. I had a friend who was five years older than me who groomed me to like the bush. I was only seven when he would take me to the forest from morning and we would go back home at around four pm. I guess that’s when my appreciation for nature was squeezed into life. The inspiration was alone the reason I opted to tell a story that springs to life providing the general eye no choice but to appreciate God’s primary choices of colour at creation, and what can possibly be conceived with the efforts of an artist.

In addition, I employ my arts to capture with trivial grace the radiance of the less termed African tribes, its values, and the beauties that makes me proud as an African artist before the world’s podium.

Being an autodidact has not been like a lazy walk in the park but rather full of bumps and curves which became important lessons in my career from which I find Collin Powel right by pointing out that, “Preparation, hard work and most importantly learning from failure is the only secret to success.”

I remember drawing a former dynamos goal keeper Peter Funwell into the ground after copying from a soccer calendar that was in our house. I wouldn’t allow anyone to pass through over the drawing on the ground and I actually found myself hitting my sister for that. This was the very same time we used to go for adventures in the bush with my older friend. Memories of that incident alone, brings this question to me, “ What else would I have become besides being an artist?”

My parents moved to Gweru in 1991 when I was 8. This is where I can actually say I grew up. The adventures continued as I found people who also liked the bush. With catapults around our necks we would spend most of our time in the forest after school. Meanwhile at school I was drawing charts for classroom walls. Drawing became interesting as I found people to compete with, since the age of nine until when I was about fifteen we would come with drawings every morning to compare.

I was in the soccer school team, I represented the school in chess, and I also participated in athletics, long jump, high jump, and triple jump. All these activities needed time to practice and I needed time for both art and books as well, so when I was in form three, I decided to cut down on activities. I made my choice to remain with books and art. . I wasn’t that intelligent so I studied extremely hard to the extent that my colleagues thought I was born bright. Sleeping for only four hours a day, I created time for books and art. Scooping out prizes for different subjects such as maths, physical science, etc at secondary school, I was made to think that I would become an academia or even a medical doctor. I even came to think I would do art part time, little did I know that I was art myself.

I went to high school taking upon the most difficult subject combinations, Sciences. At that time I was sure I was going to become a medical doctor. The combination was truly difficult but to a lot of people’s surprise, I found time to draw. One colleague even asked me one morning that we were supposed to have a physics test how I managed to draw the night before the test.

One day coming from school with a friend of mine, we entered Mieckles departmental store. I saw a box of marie’s water colours and I bought it using my two weeks transport money that I had been given in advance. Joseph was startled and said asked, “Why are you wasting your money on that little box?” I couldn’t respond but I boiled inside. He was oblivious of what I would become. That was the only box left and I couldn’t pass without getting it .That night I took a Linder lemon calendar of a kudu painting and painted a buffalo. Joseph visited me the next morning and upon entering my room he saw the buffalo painting and apologised immediately. That was about the same time I heard of Bethold Moyo Keith Zenda, Munyaradzi Chibaya and Marvellous Mangena. Completing my High School with 11 points, my dreams of becoming a medical doctor were shattered. I then applied for a nursing science degree at the University of Zimbabwe but Metallurgical Engineering was handed to me instead. I accepted the programme thinking that I would change it upon starting the first semester but I never attempted to change the programme. Why?

I was curious, not knowing what it was I, researched about it then I decided to take the programme because I discovered that having that degree meant having a respected job title and a good living. I think that is the saddest thing about our education system. A lot of people’s careers are determined by their grades and not passion. To me being capable of doing something perfectly does not necessarily mean that one enjoys doing it. I believe if talent and passion are identified and supported in kindergarten, the world would not have a lot of career confused adults.If I had been exposed to and supported in art since preschool level, I would have gone for an art degree without any doubts. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to do any art lessons at the schools I attended.

During the 4 yrs of m studies at UZ I was telling myself that, “will only work as a Metallurgist for a few years acquiring art material then I would paint full time.” I painted with poster paints on boards during my studies and even sold some of my paintings. I remember sponsoring my final year research project from sales and even my graduation gown and cap, I bought them using the payment from a lion painting. It’s funny how things work out, I used to buy paint and brushes using the grants we were offered as students. “What was I going to become, if not an Artist?” I even stated that my profession is Art on my passport I acquired waiting for my A’ Level results. I Never seriously looked for a Metallurgical industrial attachment during vacations but I painted.

After graduating in 2006 I looked for a job and at one interview in Kwekwe , one of the interviewers repeated some words on my Resume with a smile on his face that made me realise the job wasn’t mine . On hobbies section I had written passionate in fine arts.  I even had some photographs of paintings during the interview. I find it hilarious to think of that interview now.

I decided to visit Keith Zenda in 2007 who gave me oil paints which became the first oil paints I ever used. I then made some paintings planning to go to South Africa to look for a job still bearing in mind that I would work in industry a few years then paint full time. I got one job so I started processing a permit and evaluated all my certificates SAQA. During the process I asked myself why I was applying for the Metallurgy job. “Work for a while raising art material then paint full time.” I couldn’t find the reason why I was now doing the opposite. I immediately stopped job searching and focused on painting.

I vowed to myself that I would never do wild life art after seeing some paintings by Ramsey Mapunde in Cape Town .They were brilliantly executed with individual fairs on the animals and I felt I needed many years to paint like that. I then concentrated on portraits and got eight portrait commissions from an American tourist. I came back home so that I would work without disturbance. Telling my parents that I was now pursuing a career in art was difficult for me because I knew they would not accept it so I moved out and rented a place of my own. I pretended as If my job search was futile yet I had stopped looking completely.

Doing art was not easy but I had finally discovered what I really wanted in life so I was prepared for anything against my career. I remember telling my fiancé that she was my second wife since Art was my first inseparable wife. Things got tough after we got married in 2008 because she expected to use m Degree. All hell broke loose when my wife told my parents that I had chosen art for better or for worse. No two people can share a same dream so even trying to enlighten them about the vision I had was fruitless. Working from home was becoming a burden as I wouldn’t let anyone wake me up from my dream before achieving my goal. Realising that art is never respected as a career in our society I then decided to rent a studio in town. Slowly they began to respect my job and started accepting that I was actually going to work. I have been working from my studio at the Midlands show grounds since 2012, and the dust is settled.

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