Monday, February 26, 2018

Tingatinga : Angel Mcharo

Tingatinga; art turned movement.

The Tingatinga art form commonly known as the art of East Africa can be traced back to one artist-Edward Said Tingatinga. E.Said Tingatinga was born in a small southern Tanzania village in 1932. He left home in 1957 to seek employment in the large colonial sisal estates in Tanga. He later tried his luck in Dar-es-Salaam (then British colonial capital) where he worked as a house servant for white masters before going unemployed again in 1961 when Tanzania gained its independence and his masters returned to England.

 Like most commoners in the colonial era, he had no formal education. He started selling vegetables door to door in the exclusive Oysterbay suburb where his masters once lived. During that time he would also offer to do small paint jobs which gave him access to scraps of cardboard and house paint which he used to do create his art pieces. He was so desperate that he accepted a job at the Muhimbili national hospital as a nurse assistant. While there, he started painting part-time and Tingatinga became famous after selling a piece to a tourist who promoted it. His work started being highly demanded. He quit his job at the hospital to paint full time and he started training younger relatives in the craft. He died before witnessing his art gain significant fame at age 40 after being shot accidentally by the police, leaving a wife and two children. In the mid-1990s, the Swiss Association for International Cooperation managed to sell 600 Tingatinga pieces in an exhibition held in Switzerland. Further exhibitions occurred in multiple European nations, effectively making Tingatinga art world renowned.

Tingatinga originals by E.S Tingatinga 1970.

Tingatinga art has now become a movement in East Africa. I didn't choose this artist because he's my countryman but because of what his art represents. A liberation for the masses. Unlike other art forms, Tingatinga is accessible to the whole community, affordable , down to earth and speaks for a majority of people. Having suffered and died under colonial legacy, his art was unexpectedly vibrant and hopeful. Tingatinga focused on the beauty of the motherland often ignoring the harsh reality of oppression during his days.

Kilimanjaro Safari by Mbuka 75cm * 75cm 

To me this Tingatinga art means home. Tingatinga hangs in my dining room, living room, and bedroom. I always saw it in my boarding school as decorative name plaques for doors and desks alike. Plates decorating our prayer hall had beautiful Tingatinga style flowers and birds. Its hard for me to think about vibrant colours without picturing Tingatinga art.  Its a reminder to remain positive and vibrant no matter what the current circumstances are.

Chuchunge by Mbwana, 24'' x 24'' (60cm)

(More art; tingatingabutterfly)

Tanganyika Notes and Records, Dar-es-Salaam(1936-1965).

Tanzania Notes and Records; Dar-es-Salaam Vol 74 , (Jan 1, 1974) pp49

Wembah-Rashid, J. A. R. “Edward Saidi Tingatinga: In Memoriam.” African Arts, vol. 7, no. 2, 1974, pp. 56–57. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Williams, Stephen. "Tingatinga: the art of East Africa; Whether you are in Nairobi or Mombasa, Zanzibar or Arusha, Lamu or Tanga, there are hundreds of tingatinga artists. Stephen Williams profiles the source of this important art movement." New African, Feb. 2005, p. 60+. Academic OneFile, Accessed 26 Feb. 2018.

Sahlstrom B. Tingatinga--original African art from Tanzania. [cited 2006 Jul]. Available from /Tingatinga-main.html

Wembah-Rashid, J. A. R. “Tingatinga of Tanzania.” African Arts, vol. 5, no. 4, 1972, pp. 20–21. JSTOR, JSTOR,

Nesje E Tingatinga art in Tanzania: the predicament of culture? Postamble. 1(1);2004.

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