Africa has been through rough times in its history, stripped away by slavery and colonialization, and surrounded by negative conversations in diasporic circles. We have been fed doom and gloom by our media and international media. We are filled with fear of not being enough, not having enough. We live in a constant state of survival, an atmosphere of suspicion, and very little hope. Our narrative is one orchestrated by foreigners who have only little insight into our truth.
We have allowed a spirit of inferiority, fear, and apathy to be deep-rooted in us. We have believed the judgments that belittle us and become overwhelmed by our problems. We have forgotten our power and our truths. We currently live in a state of separation from ourselves. We, on one hand, want to follow western ideals of capitalism and materialism and on the other hand want to go back to our roots of community, love, and freedom. As Africans we have been fractured by slavery and colonialization and the need to restore our souls, bring ourselves back to oneness with ourselves is crying out for expression.
Africa has been through a lot and displayed a lot of resilience. Still is. Art is the gateway to healing and restoration, post-COVID 19, and our looming economic and climate change issues. Our strength will come from our creativity, our freedom, and our resilience. Chuma’s art captures the energy and vibrancy in our African psyche and culture through his colors, patterns, and unspoken energy. His art goes beyond the picture, leaving enough room for curiosity that can open up internal and external dialogue in the stories and in the collective unconscious memories that give us hope.
There is a creative renaissance pervading the psyche of the contemporary African. We are looking inward for truth and inspiration and making our expression known as a collective. Africans are positioned to be the future influencers, trendsetters, and power brokers of the world if we come to a realization and properly harness our inherent human capacities. This is our time, and we have to take it. A time to embrace who we once were, to become who we truly are.
Chuma was born aware of the missing links between our soul truths as Africans, and what and who we have become today. His art is an expression of the old and the future we are in the process of creating. His art is an expression of Africa’s strength and dynamism, showcasing our hidden history and hidden superpowers. Chuma’s background in design makes it easy for him to see through the cracks and envision a new Africa that can lead the world towards a more sustainable future, by embracing our indigenous spiritual, economic and environmental knowledge. His Pan-African experience in design and entrepreneurship gives him a deep and strong understanding of the impact that visual communication can have in bringing about social transformation and innovation. Chuma’s art is deeply embedded in that of his own ethnic nationality – ‘ndi’ Igbo, a uniquely resilient people that have seen suffering and continually overcome against all odds. He takes these stories from the hearts of his people and turns them into visual stories, we all can connect to and grow from. His art is almost spirited by the ancestors, the African spirit and ancient knowledge flow through his art invoking a strong sense of identity, pride, power, and purpose.
Art is a language everybody can understand, it transcends big words and documents. It can cause deep personal change, as well as collective change – change in consciousness. Art transcends political speeches and foreign funding, all of which have not delivered the needed fundamental change. For Africa to heal from its colonial and neo-colonial history it needs to remember who it is at a soul level. By remembering our indigenous people and their practices through art, dialogue and storytelling, we can go back in time, take what we need, and move forward. Like the Sankofa Bird, perhaps it’s time that we went back to fetch it.
With our colonial hangovers and young African population seeing art that represents us as Africans is important towards giving us the self-esteem we need to make the changes we need, from the inside. Art can be a soft power needed to shift Africa and the youth forward. So many words have been spoken in Africa, for Africa, but still, there is so much struggle. We have heard too many empty words; they almost don’t mean anything. Art goes beyond words to a deep soul form of communication that all humans understand. In 2021 and going forward it is ART that will bring hope to the world. World leaders have been alluding to new soft power approaches with increasing frequency, but it’s really the artists that hold the key and envision the way.
There has never been a greater time where higher-level wisdom is needed to solve our environmental and economical problems. Covid 19 has shown us how fragile our current systems are, and that our current strategies might be outdated and ill-equipped to deal with a fast-growing jobless youth population and looming environmental disasters. The pandemic has been a huge demonstration in getting us out of our bubble. It showed us how vulnerable we are as a planet and as an economy. It showed us how capitalist systems for organizing trade and communities have failed and that we need to go deeper into our own history for solutions. Our ancestors did not fight slavery only to sign up for neo-slavery. Africans were lovers of people, and the earth and art is the medium that brings us all back to our heart centers. Words and images can change the world.
Chuma’s art reminds us that Africans are resilient, strong, and beautiful. We are connected to an internal power within ourselves that can find peace, freedom, and abundance. Art, our art speaks to generations of humans on end. Future generations need to see images that will tell them that we stood tall, in resilience. Chuma’s art gives hope to Africa, gives us permission to have the conversations, and be witnesses to the transition because the transition is inevitable. Africa is on the rise.
Chuma is not only driving cultural heritage conversations through his art but through Mbari Uno (House of Collaboration). Chuma’s capacity to drive needed innovation led to the birth of platforms such as Mbari Uno (House of Collaboration); a sub-Sahara African focused initiative bringing African thinkers, innovators, and creators together to collaborate, promote, celebrate, and create sustainable plans, frameworks, models for positive social impact and human capacity building. Mbari Uno puts African design and innovation at the forefront of African trade and community organization so that Africa can heal from its past and current challenges and continue to rise in resilience. It is important to mention that through Lizaad Concept Store; another creation of his, Chuma is curating a holistic Afrocentric lifestyle aimed at creating a culture and exporting it in a sustainable way.
Chuma makes his art accessible online and offline, moving beyond art as a visual experience to art as a medium for meaningful dialogue and engagement across multifaceted possibilities.
By Antonia Kihara | 17th June 2021
– Antonia is the founder of Wenye Heri, a collaborative movement of projects for small trader impact and climate change. She writes from Nairobi, Kenya.
This article was first published on Mbari Uno (House of Collaboration) and it is published here with permission of the writer.