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Nostalgic sculptor Tandi yearns for another expo after Changsha

Life & Style
One of Farai Tigere Tandi’s wooden sculptures

VISUAL artist of repute and National Arts Merit Awards award winner Farai Tigere Tandi believes his exhibition at the Third China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo (CAETE) in Changsha last year through the invitation of the Chinese embassy in Zimbabwe was a breakthrough moment.

Tandi, famed for stunning monuments like the Black Elephant, Bundles of Joy and African Queen, among plenty others, said the expo aimed to boost business links while opening the Chinese market to products made in Africa. He said the experience sharpened his mind and motivated him to be more productive, adding that he would like to have a chance to exhibit at the forthcoming CAETE 2024 in Kenya in May.

“We went on the invitation of the Chinese government to the Third China-Africa Economic and Trade Expo in Changsha. Changsha is the capital of Hunan province. It is located in the southern part of China next to Guangxi and Guangdong provinces. Several African countries were represented,” he told NewsDay Life & Style.

“I took with me all types of sculptures; fine arts and abstract carvings of wood and stone. We had a good time and sold most of our artworks. China has a high demand for Zimbabwean creative work.

“Chitungwiza Arts Centre is home to over 200 artists and can work as a representative of many visual artists if it improves its marketing strategy. That is effective digital presence.”

Recently the Kenyan National Chamber of Commerce and Industry publicised with great excitement its involvement and support for the forthcoming CAETE scheduled for May 9 to 11, 2024, at the Edge Convention Centre in Nairobi. In a widely circulated news snippet, it was revealed that CAETE 2024 aims to bolster investments and trade between China and Africa by highlighting innovative achievements, fostering economic and trade co-operation.

Zimbabwe, as a land-locked country still trails behind Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, Ghana and Kenya in the export of goods to China by virtue of their proximity to the sea. Consequently a multi-disciplinary and strategic approach to competitively export to China from Zimbabwe is long overdue.

Last year at a Peace and Unity and Cultural Diversity Exhibition in Chitungwiza, Tandi set tongues wagging with his giant lion carving dubbed King of the Jungle which he described as an emblem of cultural diversity.

“My argument is that in spite of the fact that the lion preys on other animals it is also known for being protective. The lion hunts strategically and often chases other predators from its targeted prey, and who knows with luck the targeted innocent beast may escape or even be nurtured to an age where it can be harvested beneficially by game keepers,” he said.

Tandi, whose statuette Bundles of Joy propelled him into the global limelight, believes that the arts are a major source of revenue if they are well-resourced. Tandi challenged the corporate world to utilise the arts to uplift their businesses.

“Marketing processes are at their best when stakeholders collectively come together and develop a strategy which converts markets to sales,” he said.

Tandi challenges several social issues through stone art, especially his carving Together Forever which was a good pitch for many hidden aspects of life that have to be explored.

“One such thing is the need for a serious drive to fully take into cognisance the under-18 marriage vice, taking into recognition that there has been an increase in child and teenage marriages. This carving provokes a lot of thinking whether to limit or not children’s access to reproductive health information as well as grooming our children,” he added.

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