ART YAK with CHANDA MWENYA
ZAMBIA recently hosted the 134th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) assembly. The IPU meeting was attended by distinguished delegates from 163 member states across the world. The assembly was a platform for politicians, academicians and civil society groups to discuss global expectations on sustainable development.
But for Kachere Art Studios, a local creative powerhouse, the IPU meeting was an opportunity to push its agenda to advocate for youth empowerment through visual arts.
Alexis Phiri, the Kachere Art Studios co-ordinator, secured a large canvas and drew a thick black line of the Zambian map. At the centre of the map, he placed an IPU logo.
A screaming text â€˜Rejuvenating democracy, giving voice to the youthâ€™, was inscribed on the top part of the banner.
Ideally, the banner was created as a platform for the IPU delegates to append their signatures and create a graffiti-like impression that was to be kept as a souvenir by the National Assembly of Zambia.
It was the guest of honour and republican President, Edgar Lungu, who was first to sign it calligraphically. President Lungu was then followed by the Speaker of the Namibian National Assembly Peter Katjavivvi.
When the rest of the dignitaries had signed the banner, it was gradually covered in scribbles of Latin, Roman, Arabic and Chinese languages.
And the more the banner was signed, the more it manifested a creative and intellectual appeal.
Some of the distinguished delegates who signed the artwork included our own Speaker of the National Assembly Dr Patrick Matibini, a member of the Chinese National Peopleâ€™s Congress legislator Wang Xiaochu, and Dr Amal Al Quibaisa, the first woman speaker in the Arab world.
World Boxing Council gold female champion Catherine Phiri signed on behalf of Zambian youths.
The avant-garde IPU memorabilia piece will now be placed in the National Assembly building, while replicas will be presented to member states that participated in the just-ended 134th IPU assembly.
Alexis said he personally wishes to present the IPU memorabilia to Namibian President Hage Geingob because the countryâ€™s Speaker of the National Assembly Mr Katjavivvi was the first delegate to sign after President Lungu.
The enterprising artist intends to roll out the presentation of the rest of the IPU memorabilia to other African member states before heading to Asia, Europe and the Americas.
â€œThe issues of drug abuse, unemployment, illicit sex and early marriages that are affecting some of our youth are not just a Zambian problem, but a universal one. Thatâ€™s why we need concerted efforts to find workable solutions to eradicate them,â€ Alexis said.