Visualize hometown in stories and artwork

By DOROTHY NDALU

Our homes are an expression of the way we live, shape our daily routines and fundamentally affect our well-being. And the cities where we grew up too.

Undare Mtaki, born in Mwanza, recently presented an exhibition of family stories which will run until February 1 at La Galerie Alliance Française, Dar es Salaam.

He is full of memories of his hometown of Mwanza, especially of Sizu Island in Lake Victoria, one of a series of islands in Ukerewe district where his family has roots. Most of his works have titles in Kikala, his mother tongue.

Mtaki uses rectangular shapes painted in acrylic and enhanced with stones, sand or granite. The shapes, color and texture on canvas recall the pixels created by the use of sand, stones and granite.

Fitanda Boy by Sizu

The two-part collection is: Home stories, illustrating the spirit of Sizu fishermen; and childhood stories, depicting his perception of the nature of Mwanza through plays like Fitanda Boy and that of the people of Sizu through Obhusu, which means faces.

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The exhibition hall is dominated by the huge Makokoro which details a method of fishing. “On the island, a common sight is of dozens of fishermen in training, hauling in nets. It’s the way of life because our people depend on it. Fishing binds the community together.

Mtaki has a collection of five images under the name Obhusu, but with different textures and color prefixes, Orange Obhusu, Green Obhusu, Purple Obhusu, Brown Obhusu, and Gray Obhusu. These are his childhood perceptions compared to his adult view of the world.

His memory of nature is a portrait titled spirit boyof a rock and a huge tree, to represent a place where the inhabitants played and gathered under a big tree.

The Nyelango piece of Sizu Island is part of the economic activities of the community, from fishing to agriculture and recreation.

The Bismarck Rock is a monument of Mwanza with the same name. It celebrates the region, with the nuances of time inspired by the color and texture of Mwanza stones. Fitanda Boy is his recollection of playing time in open spaces where edible wild fruit was available at all times, and it was a laid-back time in his life.

The artist used to sit on smaller stones and paint as an adult, connecting his past and present, hence the subtitle Shades of time.

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