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ZAMBIA Open University art lecturer William Miko explains an art work to First Lady Esther Lungu during the UNICEF Anniversary Art exhibition in Lusaka on Thursday. PICTURE: CHANDA MWENYA.

UNICEF paints ‘Children’s Rights’

IT seems almost everything has been said about UNICEF and children, perhaps not much about the Children’s Fund as an organisation and art.
However, last Thursday, UNICEF celebrated its 69th anniversary at a reception with an inspiring art exhibition and a premier of their Harsh Tag Imagine documentary.
The reception at Taj Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka was attended by high profile delegates that included First Lady Esther Lungu, UNICEF country representative Hamid El Bashir Ibrahim, Food and Agriculture Organisation country representative George Okech and Stanbic Zambia chief executive officer Charles Mudiva, among others.
About the artworks, it all started last month with the UNICEF country office partnering with the Zambian Open University’s School of Media and Performing Arts and engaging some 20 art students from all the 10 provinces in a two-day Art for Development workshop at Lusaka’s Alliance Francaise.
During the creative workshop, participants were provided with vital statistics on children welfare, including information on child marriages, their right to childhood, their right to health, their right to safe drinking water and sanitation, and their right to basic education, among other human rights.
UNICEF country representative Ibrahim retaliated that Zambia has enormous economic potential but it is also a country where around 60 percent of the population lives below the poverty datum line and over 40 percent in extreme poverty.
The UNICEF chief revealed that a great number of Zambia’s population is youthful with children being the worst causalities from the effects of poverty.
Ibrahim’s words could be seen reflected in many of the works in the exhibition.
For example, Nsama Lombe’s work dubbed ‘A Child’s Plea’, depicts a girl-child clad in a green dress, complete orange, red and black stripes sitting on the road side. Beside her is an empty food vessel.
She is painted against Lusaka city’s high rise buildings with the unmistakable FINDECO and INDECO houses silhouetted against the sky – a vivid depiction of children begging and living on the street.
Nsama then makes screaming graffiti across the canvas, ‘I have the right to education; I have the right to clean water, don’t abuse me’.
It is clearly a metaphor of an abandoned and abused child.
The same story continued being reflected throughout the exhibition. Caroline Miyoba’s artwork of drawings on paper highlighted hope and wishes of a child and appeared like a perfect postcard to reflect the plight and aspirations of children.
The Harsh Tag Imagine documentary is a well-thought production. The theme of the documentary is anchored by English musician John Lennon’s Imagine song, in which the artiste imagines there is no heaven and no hell below us, where he imagines there are no borders.
Lennon also imagines all people living together in peace and goes on to imagine all people sharing the world.
Lennon’s thoughts sound like complete utopia if you ask me, but it offers an inspiring platform for the UNICEF Harsh Tag Imagine documentary.
At least I believe with UNICEF efforts and its creative partners, we should not only imagine a better place for our children but truly realise it.