Spotlight on Tanzanian artist Moses Luhanga

Moses Luhanga is a man in his fifties who many would conclude that he is aging well. His dark complexion and the face symmetry could be the adoration of any portrait artist. Soft spoken and calm, Luhanga is the kind of person one would wish to write memoirs, filled with anecdotal interpretations of life. 

The artist is reflective as he is sharp-witted. “I remember there was a huge tree nearby my home. There were many birds who called the tree home. One day, my neighbor cut the tree. It was a sore displeasure and pandemonium in the evening when the birds came home in the evening. They made noises and flew around with nowhere to go” Lubanga reflects “As humans we don’t speak the language of birds and therefore I couldn’t know whether they were mourning or angry about their missing home. For many days, they came to their home but nothing happened to lighten their sorrows, or whatever it is, until one day they disappeared never to be seen again.” He paused to let that sink in and then let out another narration about the elephants in southern Tanzania. Lubanga used these two experiences to answer my question about the fate of the Serengeti, with emphasis on how animals are organised and systemic in their behavior and their own ‘world’. It was to persuade my thinking into concluding that a proposed highway would be bad for the animals but of satisfaction to the humans.

The Tanzanian artist was born in Bagamoyo, he would later study to become a teacher. After his education, the ambitious Luhanga joined the Institute of Adult Education for a certificate in fine arts. From there, the creative genius with a vivid trace of wisdom and sheer aggressiveness was unstoppable as he attended various workshops in fine arts and caricature. As a cartoonist Luhanga would work for several newspapers during the Cold War until he couldn’t handle the political temperatures. He thereafter delved into fine art so as to steer clear from controversy. 

Furthermore, to enhance his skills, he learned how to work with textiles, graphic design and also how to make dummies- a craft that has earned him a modicum of success.  He is well travelled with a stint in Zimbabwe, Mozambique among other countries. 

Luhanga’s work tilts towards history, nature and wildlife, he majorly works with Working with Oil and acrylics. The artist has had several solo exhibitions and participated in group exhibitions at Goethe Institut and National Museum of Tanzania. He has also exhibited his works in Italy, Germany, New Zealand, China and USA.

Luhanga is among artists exhibiting at the Tanzania Contemporary Art Expo 2017 in Nairobi.

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