Sculptor explores death

HEART RHYTHM: Samson Mudzunga lies inside his drum. © Unknown.
HEART RHYTHM: Samson Mudzunga lies inside his drum. © Unknown.

Patience Bambalele

Patience Bambalele

Veteran sculptor Samson Mudzunga is a talented contemporary artist who mixes culture and art.

Mudzunga, 76, is a visual artist who is not afraid to paint about death. He says he is not afraid of death because he sees himself surrounded by death.

"We can be pretentious as much as we want but the truth remains that one day we are going to die. We have to accept that," said Mudzunga.

Mudzunga, who made headlines with his Ingoma Ritual Performance and Exhibition, has made a name for himself both locally and internationally.

Though it was not a smooth ride, he is proud of his achievements.

Based in Nzhelele, Limpopo, Mudzunga specialises in big drums that he uses to tell his story.

Most of his large wooden drums are carved with a male and female figure with a colourful Vhavenda material lining the inside of the drum.

His latest big design, Vivho-Venda which means jealousy in Tshivenda, can accommodate eight people.

He says: "I called my latest drum Vivho because there is a lot of jealousy in my village. People don't want to see me succeeding. Since I started this career many people hate me. Every time I stage Ingoma performance they always try to sabotage it. People who love and appreciate what I do come from overseas and outside the province."

In his performance, Mudzunga climbs inside the drum-coffin that is buried in his garage.

"I dress in a traditional Venda outfit and sleep in the drum for a few minutes. My wife will beat the drum and open it. I then emerge and drink water from Lake Fududzi. This is my only communication with my ancestors and the performance gives me power and energy."

His annual event attracts art enthusiasts from all over the world, including Germany, the UK and Canada.

Mudzunga has just returned from Australia where he performed his Ingoma. He has sold most of his drums in Germany.

To make his event big he has brought in the element of traditional dance. A young girl performs the Domba and Tshikona dances.