Quite an experience in Zimbabwe

Tom R. Chambers
Documentary Photographer/Visual Artist
I also had the opportunity to spend Christmas with the Mucharambeyi family and friends in a rural area Southwest of Rusape. Compared to all of my life experiences, the visit with this family and their friends has been the most satisfying. The way I was accepted into their culture and lifestyle will forever be remembered as one which begins to breech racial and cultural barriers that so often keep people apart and prohibit the 'true kindred spirit' of humankind. I thank the Mucharambeyi family and their friends for their openness and kindness that made me feel a sense of 'brethren' with world humanity. And through their connection, I offer this photographic exhibition as a thank you to them and their friends and as a tribute to Traditional African culture.

The photographs combine a documentary portrait style with the utilization of an environmental backdrop to convey the lifestyle in a Traditional African rural setting. The youth and the elderly are interspersed within the coverage to convey the 'generational inheritance' of culture. The 'family unit' is emphasized through various groupings and to convey its prevalence within Traditional African culture.

The photographs were exhibited as 'Southwest Of Rusape: The Mucharambeyi Connection' at the Corridor Gallery, United States Information Service (USIS), Harare, Zimbabwe, Africa (grant - United States Government ; and accepted as a part of the USIS Archives Permanent Collection), 1995. Four samples follow:

In conclusion, the arts are thriving in Zimbabwe, but in an interesting and polarized manner, with the Black Zimbabwean artists moving in their own direction, but under the control and influence of White Zimbabweans; and the White Zimbabwean artists moving within Western concepts. What's also interesting, I believe, is the fact that the Black Zimbabwean sculptors who are generating the stone sculpture seem to keep their Traditional African thoughts and concepts ... spiritual, as some indicated to me ... but others (the younger generation) can't keep from introducing Western concepts, because of influence from and competition amongst the White Zimbabwean artists. And this artist will never forget the opportunity that he had to participate and project his own thoughts and concepts.

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