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Exclusive Independence Art Exhibition at MTSIFA

  • In Art and Design
  • 7 Oct 2009 - 11:16am
  • By Anonymous (not verified)
  • 36,683
Below is an extract from the message that the then Prime Minister of Uganda, the Hon A.M. Obote wrote for the special Independence edition of the Uganda Argus in 1962;

“At the turning-point in the history of Uganda, I hope that all our friends will join with me in bestowing upon the new, independent Uganda our prayers and hopes for peace, prosperity and a growing strength in her now role in international affairs. Uganda has many friends, both within her borders and outside. With the goodwill of all who wish to see her prosper, Uganda will go forward from strength to strength.”

After the October 1962 historic event days have turned into years and years into decades. It therefore comes as no surprise that this week Uganda is commemorating its 47th Independence Anniversary.
Born in the 1950’s and growing up in the residential suburb of Kololo I, at an early age, always looked forward to the celebrations that were held in the grounds of Kololo airstrip.

However in the last four decades Independence anniversaries can hardly be equated to celebrations. Rather, they have now become occasions for people to pause, for a moment, and look back along the path we have traveled and to reflect on what may be in store for future generations.
As a nation, we have experienced happenings that have either heralded us as champions for a just cause or ridiculed us and questioned our founding position as a democratic state.

This week, the Makerere Art Gallery, in an exclusive art exhibition is commemorating Uganda’s Independence anniversary. This group of artists from various age groups and artistic backgrounds has done what they do best.

They have made visual statements that speak louder than words.
A few highlights to whet your appetite.
Notwithstanding the artists’ original concepts when they executed the works, I am tempted to make some subjective socio-political interpretations on some of the works displayed.

When two cocks begin to fight there is literally no stopping until one succumbs to defeat .The victor gains space(usually within a clearly defined perimeter) and asserts his authoritative presence as the defeated cockerel slinks away with a bloodied head and comb. Even in the simple life of such lowly creatures there is a chain of command that is earned through brute force.

It is only when the cockerel is ‘slaughtered’ for a meal or becomes too old to ‘rule’ that another younger cock can ably take over.
I don’t know about you but that is what I experience in my mind when I behold Ssali Yusuf’s painting. Two great cocks face each other in a flurry of bright red and yellow colours that speak about the passion with which these cocks fight for leadership positions.
A cock, whether in Uganda or any other country in Africa, has the same mannerism when it comes to the issue of leadership.
Sounds familiar?

An abstract painting titled ‘Mother cow’ got me thinking about a mother cow that ‘hides’ its milk from the farmer who does not feed and treat it well.
It sounds ironical but the truth of the matter is that one can’t expect milk from a cow that one does not feed.

In simple terms the ‘cow’ and the ‘farmer’ have to understand that they both need to work at their roles for anything good to come out of the partnership! People… it’s about working together!

In the midst of apartheid South Africa, Alan Paton wrote a book whose title Cry, the Beloved Country makes one wonder and ask “why?” about the socio-economic imbalances that were then and still is, prevailing in South Africa.

Although Martin Luther King Jr asserted that man should be judged by the content of his character rather than by the colour of his skin, for whatever social, political, economic and religious upheavals, those with the same skin colour often are the worst offenders of discrimination.

Reading between the lines of a text is no different than looking beyond the visual representations that you will encounter in this Art Exhibition. Whether you agree with me or not, life is amazingly interesting when one looks at it through the eyes of artists.
Take a moment to reflect on what being independent is all about during this weekend marking the nation’s 47th Independence anniversary.

Enjoy!

Maria Alawua Openyto,
Lecturer, Department of Painting and Art History,
Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Art.

Click here for your invitation.

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