Oliver Mtukudzi has unveiled a life-size stone sculpture memorial monument christened Why Me? — Statue of the Unknown Artiste which he dedicated to deceased Zimbabwean artists whom he upholds as eminent heroes.
The statue, standing at 1,66m and made from green serpentine stone, was sculpted by Victor Fire from Springstone Trust in Ruwa and mounted at Pakare Paye Arts Centre, an academy founded by Mtukudzi in Norton.
The symbolic tribute illustrates the agony of a bereaved mother portrayed with a bare bosom and a depleted womb apparently drained by the incessant birth of children whose own small grim faces are chiselled out on her back and look away from their mother in quite a telling gesture.
“To some people artists are not heroes. Yet we have arts heroes and heroines who have made us what we are today. We want to remember them always . . . their work, greatness and love,” said Mtukudzi.
Mtukudzi said the priceless statue is entirely inclusive in its representation as it embodies deceased Zimbabwean artists across all art forms — poets, actors, sculptors, musicians, disc jockeys, writers, comedians, dancers and many others.
“This was my personal initiative to acquire the statue. If we don’t remember our own arts heroes ourselves, who will?”
By unveiling the statue Mtukudzi was simply driving home the same profound message carried in one of his compositions Andinzwi (What Is A Hero?) — a song evidently self-explanatory as its title suggests.
Mtukudzi himself has an obsession with sculptures and buys almost any piece that he comes across and adores.
He has an assortment of pieces adorning his gardens at Pakare Paye Arts Centre and does not appear to be slowing down as yet in his collection.
Only recently Mtukudzi collaborated with sculptors from Springstone Trust on a unique project where he performed at the sculptors’ farm in Ruwa with daughter Selmar.
The sculptors pocketed fairly handsome box-office proceeds and Mtukudzi went away with pieces the equivalent of cash raised from the show’s ticket sales.
Shepherd Mutamba is a Harare-based writer