Tafadzwa Zimoyo Senior Lifestyle Writer
It is mid-morning and we are in New Marimba Park. We find the home after some struggle, what with the hustle of driving in Harare and the defaced street names?
Our driver hoots once and the brown metal gate is whirled open. A hodgepodge of trees and flowers dwarf the main house, aided by dotted pieces of sculpture.
Two Croton Mega Caper trees stand imposingly high as we struggle for parking space. The trees have a matching competition for height with a huge stone sculpture of a lady. It must be a lady of the night!
Suddenly our eyes are primed by the undergrowth of shrubs and flowers that spread all over the yard demarcated by footpaths. Birds chirp and summersault from one tree branch to another, while bees, dragonflies and butterflies hover on flowers, in effortless aerial displays as they hunt for nectar.
A huge man, with visible grey chevron moustache beard closes the gate behind us.
“You are from The Herald I guess, these days you don’t just open the gate, welcome!” he remarks with a smile and moves to a shade to work on his piece of stone sculpture.
Huge “rocks” balance delicately to the left, surrounded by trees. It is only after touching them that we find out they are actually artificial. The brown paint disguises as red lichens.
We are ushered into the lounge and lo and behold! A scullery of small pieces of sculpture from the family members cover the length and breadth of the room.
Well, this is not a gallery but the home of Mr Samson Kuvenguhwa. There Mr Kuvenguhwa and his three sons, live art, speak art, sleep and eat art. Art is everything to them.
The mission had initially been to look for 25-year-old Aaron Kuvenguhwa, a Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) student who has turned heads with his environmental art creations.
But we were shocked that it was the whole family.
A walk around the home could confuse one to an art centre in Italy or Madame Tussaud’s wax museum in London. But this is Marimba.
It is a gallery on it’s on, a park if you so wish.
Samson has eight children, four of which are based in the United Kingdom (Edna, Rutendo, Sam and Sifelani), while Harare-based Obey, Aaron, Fortune and Sarah are much into creative art.
Samson is a renowned sculptor who had carved a lot of pieces which are all over his yard.
“I started at 10 years old sculpting with my grandfather on stones and tree barks. I took sculpting seriously in 1974 and then joined the Canaan Patterson Art Centre in Mbare. The following year I formed my group along Bulawayo road called Kubatana Craft Centre. I then started doing exhibitions at National Gallery of Zimbabwe in 1982 and my piece won first prize among other five countries. The piece was called — Tonga, a smiling face. My children decided to follow my footsteps and this then amazed me. We used to have white people visiting our house to buy artifacts and even taking a tour, pictures of my works,” he explained.
During the interview Samson was interjecting bringing his memorabilia pictures, while his sons would stand at their art works.
So Aaron recently hogged limelight with his balancing “rocks” made of fibre he buys at Astra chemicals in Harare.
The young lad who is currently studying Creative Art and Design said he was more inspired by nature and the environment.
“I picked this programme because growing up I used to play alone making different pieces with any object that comes by my hand after watching cartoons like Transformers. I was a loner and used to see my father busy with stones and say, one day I would be like him. This is my first project that you have seen on television and circulating on social media although I am not a fan.
“I am inspired by societal setting hence my sense of feeling help me to do an artifact,” he said.
He said that he idolised William Shakespeare’s writing that, “the earth has music to those who listens”.
“I take a week to finish a piece. I want to mix my passion with industrial design and do something for my mother that she can use in our house, maybe a room divider or something else. I also make car bumpers together with my elder brother Obey. The challenge that I face is that sometimes people fail to understand my artworks but what you need to know is art speaks to you first,” he said.
Surprisingly Aaron said he does not have a social life like boys of his age as he always keeps himself busy with artwork.
“I am always indoors, watching movies. I also do taekwondo at school. I hate going out as I love my space,” he said.
Boys of his generation are busy chasing fashion statements, listening to some of local Zimdancehall music among others but for Aaron it is totally different as he said he loves mbira music.
“I am a staunch fan for mbira music and I love Mbira DzeNharira. Their music gives me strength,” he said.
Last born in the family, Fortune (22) who was standing by an unfinished wedding carriage they also said was part of their project said there is more than what meets the eye, in our family.
“Behind me is a piece my brother Obey is working on and we have a partnership with some wedding venues and Zimbabwe police, so as to get horses for the carriage. We are going to be hiring out, in fact come and see at our backyard,” he said.
At the backyard, there is a garage with unfinished two carriages again, while the brothers said they are busy finishing a car made of wire, which somehow is a first in Zimbabwe.
However, Fortune is into the art of designing using tree twigs, banana leaves, grass and bamboo leaves among others.
“At first my mother would ask what I was doing but since I was born an artist it was easy to adapt. I make artifacts for display at homes and I sell them. I am waiting to join my brother at university. We rarely buy stuff for decoration at our home as you can see most of our decorations are made of trees, leaves, fibre and stones. We want to build a mountain in our lounge area,” he said.
Although the apple does not fall far from the tree, there is always one rotten or bad apple.
In this case, the daughter is more into the art of beauty- hair business.