Art has always been a part Munya Chidakwa‘s life. He says art is way of trying to understand the world and is the medium he uses to communicate what’s inside of him. A son to a former Minister in Zimbabwe, Munya has known struggle and triumph- sleeping at a cemetery at one point and travelling the world to feed his passion. Munya spoke to TIA about his life and photography.

Munya was born in Zimbabwe on February 11th 1988 and is the son of Enos Chikowore (Former Minister of Transport and Energy) and Debra Chidakwa who is a teacher, author, Methodist minister, and former barrister. His journey from Zimbabwe to England was not smooth and was unexpected.

“My pregnant mother and I where tied to bed as our house was set alight by people furious about my mother and father’s relationship. We had no choice to leave. We arrived in the UK in 1990. Cold with no support we slept for 3 days in Manor Park Cemetery (East London),” Munya says.

Munya says he found peace when he had a paintbrush in his hand.

“I loved the patterns I could create.”

“It did not take me long to attempt to emulate the artwork in the X Men and Spiderman comics I used to collect. I remember my mother constantly studying as she tried to make life easier for my younger sister and me. She hammered into our heads the importance of education. I also developed a passion to also write. I loved reading the proverbs in the bible and the Fables of Aesop,” he adds.

Read: New African Photography: Andrew Esiebo

In 1997, Munya entered a national poetry competition, writing a poem called ‘What I Am’. His poem was received well and was published. He says ideally his journey as a poet could have kicked off from there, but he was young and still finding myself.

“I was drawn to Fine Art, it was what I was recognised for. It was my space of comfort and was a medium whereby my voice could be heard.”

At the age of 16 his school under a scheme called ‘Gifted and Talented’ selected him, a small group of 20 students from the borough of Newham London travelled to Wales to do an intense module in fine art.

“My passion for writing, lay dormant until my college years. I started writing music to hip hop instrumentals under the name of ‘pmunnie’. My lyrics consisted of the use of metaphors and imagery, combining my visual skills within my words,” he says.

Read: New African Photography: J. D. Kannah (DRC)

Munya continued to write into his early years at Brunel University, being a part of a band called Dynasty creating four songs together. Munya asserts his love music; Hip Hop, RnB, Soul, and Grime genres which he says have had a profound effect on his creative journey.

After leaving Brunel University he continued to study at University of East London (UEL). He studied a foundation in arts leading onto a degree in Graphic Design. In is final year of university, a good friend and creative director Tudor Payne mentored me.

“He invited me on a field visit to Niger and Indonesia. On this trip I assisted and learnt how to shoot photography and film Tudor and Adam Scarth (Director of Photography) provided me with valuable skills and advice that I still use today.”

“I used the photography from these trips in my final major project, delivering a powerful project illustrating the expression of style in areas of poverty,” he adds.

After doing these internships during his studies at Weiden and Kennedy he went straight into employment at a non governmental organisation called Islamic Relief were his design skills grew. Munya has worked for Islamic Relief, Comic Relief, VCCP, Rufus Leonard and Oxfam. Currently he works at the Cancer Research.

All images supplied.