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Artist Kenneth Namalomba fumes with art contest

As Nyasa Streams revisits prize

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NAMALOMBA—When we talk about artists being exploited, this is beyond that

United States of America (USA)- based visual artist Kenneth Namalomba has taken a swipe at an art contest driven by Nyasa Streams, saying it is demeaning the value of art.

In a poster posted on their Facebook page, Nyasa Streams called for submissions of pencil or pen drawings or paintings of the image of musician Billy Kaunda.

It further said that, to get a vote, one must get people to like the original post on the Nyasa Streams Facebook page once posted.

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It also indicated that two winners will be awarded K20,000 each and that they would be presented at Kaunda’s book and hymns album launch at Bingu International Convention Centre in Lilongwe on June 4 2021.

The submission period runs from May 18 to May 24 and the winner will be announced on May 26.

Several visual artists have commented on the poster that Namalomba reposted on his Facebook page, with many saying the amount is not worth it looking at the materials used in creating the image.

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Namalomba said it is the narrative that matters in the poster stressing that, as a former minister and an artist, Kaunda would have been valuing art.

“How exactly does he see visual arts?” Namalomba, who has always fought for the best of visual artists in the country, queried.

He said it was sad and pathetic and beyond insulting for someone who was in the Cabinet and was responsible for youth development to put up something like this.

“When we talk about artists being exploited, this is beyond that. They have put out a picture to be drawn or painted for this competition of which will be used as an album cover so it simply means he wants an artwork with the rights to use it for his book or album for this amount,” Namalomba claimed.

He said most artists cannot comment because they feel the insult directed at them.

“I wonder if he knows how expensive it is to produce an artwork at any level, amateur or professional,” Namalomba said.

The visual art contest also follows the Hills and Valleys poetry competition which has seen Tamika Mkandawire and Fatsani Chione emerging winners.

Kaunda, a Member of Parliament and former Cabinet minister, released a Hymns album which has won the hearts of many people.

The legislator said yesterday he was not responsible for the contest and that it was being handled by content coordinator Boniface Kaunda.

Boniface has since apologised, saying the amount of K20,000 put up is not to undermine the art industry.

He also distanced the contest from Kaunda, saying it is not his idea but rather his brand Nyasa Streams.

“I did not do this to undermine the art industry; the problem was that I did not do research on the prizes before publicising the poster. I am really sorry to all artists concerned. Though the face on this poster might be Billy Kaunda’s but I can assure you that he has nothing to do with it,” Boniface said.

He said he had managed to up the amount to K40,000.

“Again, this is not Billy Kaunda but rather Nyasa Streams. We came up with the amount of K20,000 because we had just finished a poems competition,” Boniface said.

He said Nyasa Streams is sponsoring the Hills and Valleys book and Hymns album launch and that this is their idea to promote the launch.

Visual Artists Association of Malawi acting President Gilbert Mpakule said they were also not happy as an association and that this only shows how visual artists are perceived.

“People don’t see the value of art and this is why we don’t even see anything in different programmes, including Vision 2063, especially for art,” Mpakule said.

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