Zimbabwe: Soldier Inspires Harmony With Hammer, Chisel

Arts Reporter

Goromonzi-based sculptor Emmanuel Gengo has captured attention after carving artefacts that depict the beauty of nature and how it takes time for the environment to regain its original state in the event of a disturbance.

With a small hammer and a chisel in his hands, Gengo, a soldier and artist, brings out the beauty on solid chunks of stone each day.

While his profession and arts might seem to be different worlds apart, Gengo said there were countless similarities between the two.

He said his works helped people to appreciate the beauty of nature and how it takes time to get its wounds healed after disturbances like veld fires, deforestation and other forms ofs of land degradation.

In an interview, Gengo said he was motivated to take up art way back during his school days after he observed that nature had its way of expressing itself -- be it anger or happiness.

"I have a collection of artwork to inspire people to see the world differently and live harmoniously with nature," said Gengo.

"I started falling in love with art. It is a form of creation, it is found naturally around us, nature expressing its emotions, an artist sees through a mind's eye. So growing up we did different projects at school like clay moulding."

Despite art being his secondary profession, Gengo is dreaming to be an internationally acclaimed sculptor with a fantastic eye for detail. In other projects, Gengo, who has turned his rural homestead in Goromonzi into a sculpture centre, was creating some challenging and ambitious pieces.

Although he said it is no easy feat to balance his creative career and military duties, Gengo strives to give equal attention to both professions.

"Whenever I am not on duty and I don't have work, I spend my other time here, so I can't call it spare time, but I would also call it productive time because once I am done there, I am here in my sculpture garden at my homestead," said Gengo.

Gengo, who is a multi-medium artist who uses different types of materials to come up with an artefact, traced his career long back before he joined the Zimbabwe National Army and was still a young lad at Musengezi farms in Mashonaland West.

"Going back to how it all started, I was born in a small-scale commercial farming area of Musengezi in Chegutu.

"Whilst doing my primary education, we had art as a subject. Our art teacher, Mr Muganhiri, was very strict about his assignments, that's when I became very determined in art."

Gengo, who has pursued art for almost a decade, has mastered the art of expressing societal issues through his pieces.

His work is inspired by day-to-day experiences in the natural systems. He uses mostly serpentine stone to carve pieces that convey emotions, events and the struggles of everyday life.

Gengo described sculpting as an effective medium to bring everlasting positive change in society and reduce conflicts between people and their environment.

"So, through art and through the law, it creates a harmonious order with sustenance between the two, that is how people are living in their lives and also what can we do as humans to change the world and protect our God given environment," he said.

Gengo said he was lucky to interact with renowned artists like Diminic Benhura who heads Mabvuku Tafara (TAMA) Arts Centre in Tafara.

"I had a chance to meet famous artists like the Gutsa brothers and Dominic Benhura, that is in Tafara, whilst I was doing my secondary education," he said.

"I got to love of stone sculpture seeing the beauty inside a stone and expression of feelings cast in a stone, its permanent.

"I started doing small artefacts like birds. After school, I did not take art full time, I had to find a job and got one in the Government. After being settled, I resumed my works with the help of Raphael Machinjili and Timothy Mharakurwa at TAMA.

"My dream is to open an arts centre here in Chikwaka where I live and give the youth something to expand their minds during their spare time and that will open avenues for domestic tourism. The challenges that we are facing mainly relate to inadequate funding for raw materials and power tools."

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