This month, Namibia will pause to celebrate the life and legacy of John Ndevasia Muafangejo with Namibian Arts Association and JMAC.
John Muafangejo, Namibia’s most acclaimed artist gained recognition in the 1970s through the Anglican Church and later the Arts Association of Namibia, with bursaries to study art in South Africa. The Arts Association of Namibia (AAN) continued to support John Muafangejo by hosting exhibitions of his linocuts at its space and by including Muafangejo in international biennales and art competitions during the Apartheid era in South Africa and Namibia.
In 1988, shortly after his death, the AAN was one of the key agents to establish the John Muafangejo Art Centre (JMAC). In recent years, the John Muafangejo Art Centre launched the Muafangejo Season in an attempt to raise awareness for the contribution and role of John Muafangejo in arts and also for his political views. The Season of Muafangejo builds on the concept of Muafangejo as a sensitive recorder of the issues of his time, for which 18 of his works were selected for its social and political commentary.
In partnership with JMAC and the FNCC, the Namibian Arts Association is hosting the Season of Muafangejo from 15 to 26 October 2018 at the Franco Namibian Art Centre. The season comprises fresh approaches and interpretations by Actofel Illovu, Betty Katuuo, Haymich Olivier, Nesindano Namises, Ama Uris, Sam Matengu, Vilho Nuumbala, Julia Hango, West Uarije, Ashwyn Mbiri, Perivi Katjavivi and Joel Haikali. This interactive show aims to view Muafangejo in light of the current socio-political landscape, through the lens of a younger generation of artists and activists.
Art historian, Adelheid Lilienthal noted that though the committee of the Arts Association supported and encouraged the artist in many ways, Muafangejo must have felt the prevailing reservations about his art in a cultural community that favoured landscapes and wildlife art produced by European artists in realistic and impressionistic forms.
John Muafangejo’s concern, in contrast, was the life and fate of his own Oshiwambo, Kwanyama people, especially their social and personal conditions and interactions, the political situation of apartheid in South West Africa, and the impact of war which was in conflict with his religious and personal convictions regarding love, friendship and reconciliation.
Elize van Huyssteen, curator of the Season of Muafangejo envisages creating awareness for the continued plights within society, against the violations of human rights through live performances, screenings, panel discussions, art making and workshops.
An official opening of Muafangejo Season 2018 by Nangula Nanyemba will take place on 15 October 2018 at 6pm at the Franco Namibian Cultural Centre. An exhibition of Muafangejo’s works will be up at the FNCC until 26 October 2018. On 18 October 2018 a panel discussion on activism and an analysis of Muafangejo’s art will take place. Three printmaking workshops will take place on 20, 23 and 25 October 2018. Throughout the week, live dance, poetry and film screenings will take place as well. Let’s celebrate our legend and invoke our future.