Features

34 years ago today Tayali died

VICTOR KALALANDA, Lusaka
BESIDES its iconic and quaint architecture, there is another aspect that sets apart the University of Zambia (UNZA) as an institution steeped in history: the artwork in its environs. Arguably the most imposing figure in this range of art is the statue called The Graduate, which has since become a lasting memory of the country’s foremost artist, Henry Tayali, who died on this day 34 years ago, after serving UNZA spiritedly as a lecturer and resident artist. The Graduate was made of concrete and unveiled on July 14, 1979 by late former President Kenneth Kaunda at UNZA’s Graduation Forum, where thousands, in decades, have stopped by to make meaning of the faceless sculpture, the book in its left hand or the hoe in its right hand.
Tayali’s rise to eventual prominence and distinction can be traced back to the time he was awarded government sponsorship to pursue art education at Makerere University, Uganda, from 1967 to 1971. He was, accordingly, a direct beneficiary of Government’s deliberate efforts, then under President Kaunda, to increase the numbers of skilled human resource steering the country forward in various fields of human endeavour. Born on November 22, 1943 in Zambia’s (then Northern Rhodesia’s) Serenje district to Edward Nkole Tayali and Esnati Mumba, Tayali grew up with a special love for art, expressing his raw talent and creativity through painting. Having had an exposure to artwork early on in life, with his first exhibition held at the age of 15, Tayali’s own work as a versatile artist apparently took a fiercer and promising form at Mpopoma High School in Zimbabwe, the country where his father worked. It was while at Mpopoma that Tayali produced one of his most enchanting paintings known as Destiny, and went on to produce many other pieces which he would sell and subsequently use the income in art school. His exploits while in high school earned him government funding at Makerere – which was once known as the Harvard of Africa – where he studied such art forms as painting, sculpting and photography. Following the seizure of power in Uganda by Idi Amin, Tayali returned back to Zambia to CLICK TO READ MORE



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