Lives with his magic brush

FINE ARTIST — Jethro and his artworks

For a long time, visual art in Malawi has not been given the respect it deserves. This, coupled with lack of viable spaces for these artists to showcase their talent, has made the path for many visual artists hard.

But despite being sidelined and not given much attention, artists continue to create extraordinary works some of which have put Malawi on the spotlight.

One artist, who is gradually building his empire in the world of visual art, is Jethro Longwe.


Jethro is flying his art to his best and at the same time using it to tackle various issues affecting society.

With his brushes, paints and canvas, Jethro has pushed his art to the top with a focus on wildlife which he is so passionate about.

“I love wildlife. When we were young, my parents used to take us to national parks and game reserves for us to see different wild animals and I still do it now although not frequently and so, now I love painting these wild animals,” he said.


He believes in painting the best of wildlife and that this will always be his focus.

“I hope to pass this to my children. So, I paint wild animals such as lions and leopards and these are my favourite. I also love creating paintings of local scenes especially colourful ones with brightness and warmth,” Jethro said.

He observes that it is not easy to create paintings for wildlife.

“Lions and leopards are the hardest to paint especially doing it like I do with all the details and it also takes more time,” he said.

For those who have visited Jethro’s social media page, then they will attest that he is an exceptional talent, who creates unique paintings that speak to the soul in all forms including colour.

Born in Nkhotakota, Jethro is the only boy in a family of five children.

His father hails from Nkhata Bay whereas his mother comes from Zomba.

He went to several primary schools including Chikapa in Blantyre and Mwenyekondo in Lilongwe before his secondary school education at William Murry and Chipasula.

For his tertiary, he went to Chancellor College, now University of Malawi, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities.

“I have also learned in some of the primary schools in Zambia and Zimbabwe,” Jethro said.

Seeking to advance his skills and enrich his knowledge of fine art, Jethro also learnt graphic design at Ruth Prowse School of Art in Cape Town, South Africa.

Jethro’s journey into fine art dates back to the time he was eight years when he used to draw. Largely, he says, his talent is inborn.

“Of course I have upgraded my talent through the platforms I have been exposed to including the university but this is a gift from God,” he said.

Although the industry is not that rewarding as is the case with other countries, Jethro believes there is still potential and that with time things will change in the country.

He takes solace in that with technology, visual artists are now able to expose their paintings through Facebook and other online platforms.

“It has been a rewarding journey for me following what I love to do. Not many people get to do that. I wake up and create what I love, and get to share with people,” Jethro said.

The artist has learned and still learning both the art and the business of art.

“There are ups and downs and so many challenges on the ground for sure but art has given me all the space to express myself. Through art, I have travelled places,” he said.

In one of his paintings which depict happy faces of a woman and her child on her shoulders, Jethro describes it as one of his favourite pieces.

“Malawians are the warmest, friendly and kind people on earth. First, it is our loving mothers and they will do whatever it takes to make sure the baby is happy and properly fed,” he said.

In another painting titled ‘Wiser, Better and Stronger’, Jethro talks about respect for the elderly looking at the recent trends which have seen people ill-treating the elderly.

“An African proverb tells it all that a village without the elderly is like a well without water. Remember to love and respect our elders, it is the right thing to do and it is the Malawian way,” he said.

Jethro is proud of what he produces as an artist adding that he loves to explore, create things and fuse different ideas.

“Art is a career worth pursuing. I am living it and it is what is giving me my bread and butter. I have paid for my studies in South Africa through and today I have registered my own gallery which is slowly coming up. I have also opened classes where I teach from home,” he said.

Jethro said he is inspired by the warmth and kindness of the country’s culture and the beautiful nature.

“Any form of art that meets that we can see, it can cause any kind of reaction or evoke an emotional reaction by the view. It can be for beauty or has some hidden deep meaning,” he said.

Jethro dreams in colour and wants to achieve a lot in the creative world as someone who calls himself an art educator and that he wants to share knowledge, skill and experience.

Although many visual artists have complained that Malawians do not love buying paintings, Jethro is of a different view saying “Malawians love and appreciate art”.

“I have been a full-time artist for over eight years here in Malawi and Malawians love art. The only challenge now is the change in mindset of most people that foreign art is superior or better, local is not good and so, people are willing to pay millions for foreign art and pay little for local art,” he said.

Jethro said it is because of this mentality that some artists have ended up leaving the country and excel in foreign soil.

As regards technology, Jethro said he values it and that he has embraced it fully such that he markets his artworks through online.

“There were times in the past where some fellow artists used to discourage me from putting my works online but with the strides I have made, many have now followed suit. Technology has given us new platforms online to reach out to the world,” he said.

Jethro said artists should strive to produce good quality work which he indicated is easy to advertise online.

“I have got so many customers through online and I have also been able to interact with other artists through the same. Of course technology also has its own disadvantages, for instance, someone hacked my account and I ended up being affected but now I am back again,” the artist said.

Spanish painter, Picasso, once said painting is just another way of keeping a diary and that art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.

Picasso inspired many artists in the world and his works continue to do so today. He has likened his paintings to maintaining a diary.

The way he describes substituting a paintbrush for a pen demonstrates how similar the branches of the arts can be.

“It’s not so much about being a painter or a writer; they are two beasts of the same species. We could also guess that creativity of all types essentially draws from the same well of genius,” Picasso says.

Not only have great artists shaped culture and the human experience for centuries, the artists themselves also have interesting insights as to why they do what they do.

Jethro is steadily charting that course with purpose.

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