Pictures: Changing face of Matapi Flats

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Matapi Flats in Mbare are commonly known as being dilapidated and derelict.

Ever wondered the brains behind the art at one of the country’s oldest suburbs?

REPORT BY AARON UFUMELI

The colourful paintings at Matapi flats, which became iconic in the run up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, can sum up a story of how one unknown man discovered his passion.

Matapi Flats in Mbare are commonly known as being dilapidated and derelict.
Matapi Flats in Mbare are commonly known as being dilapidated and derelict. All pictures: Aaron Ufumeli

The man is none other than Wedza-born 34–year-old Warren Maruta.

Maruta, who is married and has three children, grew up with a passion for art and after much encouragement from his parents, enrolled at Peter Birch school of Arts in the capital, Harare, where he would attend during school holidays.

Warren Maruta showcases his 'Respect' graffiti art. All pictures: Aaron Ufumeli
Warren Maruta showcases his ‘Respect’ graffiti art.

In between time, his passion for art grew because of Susan Paterson who was a teacher at Athol Desmond school also in Harare.

“Paterson was good at drawing portraits and I was fascinated by her works,” Maruta said.

After finishing his art studies at Peter Birch school of art, Maruta abandoned his talent.

Since completion of his education in 1998 he went to Trust Academy and has been working as a bus conductor for a bus company that services the Harare-Botswana route.

It was not until 2013 when he started to put his talent to use and it was by accident.

Beszil Matsika with his 'Lion of Judah' graffti art piece.
Beszil Matsika with his ‘Lion of Judah’ graffti art piece.

After being encouraged by a close friend Abraham Chimwetato to take his talent seriously
Maruta teamed up with a colleague Beszil Matsika, who only studied art during his days at Mt Pleasant High school back in 2000.

The two’s Mbare upbringing made them have strong Rastafarian values such that their first work was that of the Lion of Judah at Matapi flats.

The beauty of this art has enticed many dancehall musicians to have their videos shot against the background.

Peter Changadenga with a graffiti art piece of President Robert Mugabe.
Peter Changadenga with a graffiti art piece of President Robert Mugabe.

To date, Maruta and Matsika have done five works which took an average of two days each to complete, aptly titled Respect, Lion of Judah, Scorpion, President and Rasta Baby that are decorating the walls of Matapi flats.

“There is that feeling of satisfaction that I get after I complete my works because I
would have achieved what many have failed,” a humble Maruta said.

Matapi residents.
Matapi residents.

In addition to this, he has also done works at crèches and beer halls in and around Mbare. And if this is anything to go by, the sky is the limit for Maruta.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Progressive minds will take up this talent to greater heights. The fellows are at least occupied with sometimes positive gesture. but zivai wekutenda vakomana. Keep it up!

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