THE Tengenenge art community and sculpture fraternity at large was plunged into mourning following the death of veteran sculptor Josiah Manzi on Tuesday in Guruve, Mashonaland Central province.
He was 89.
A founding sculptor of Tengenenge Community Art Centre, Manzi was buried yesterday in Guruve.
National Gallery of Zimbabwe executive director Raphael Chikukwa said Manzi’s work, as one of the first-generation of sculptors in Zimbabwe’s modern art scene, had an impact not only on local people, but across the world.
“The board of trustees of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, the directorate and staff, and the friends of the gallery, extend their condolences to the Manzi family and the Tengenenge sculpture community on the passing away of Josiah Manzi,” Chikukwa said.
“A larger-than-life spirit of Tengenenge community art centre Manzi has joined the ancestors of the Yao people and other Tengenenge community art centre ancestors.
“Go well abambo, wakwatu kuTengenenge. Anganga wakumpando you came and you made a huge impact and went well anganga.”
Manzi is said to have started off as a builder assisting his father at Tengenenge before he became a sculptor when he met and began to work for the late founder of the Tengenenge Art Community Tom Blomefield in 1967.
Manzi is said to have had experience in carving wooden masks, but Blomefield encouraged him to venture into stone carving.
He was self-taught and most of his works were inspired by his spirituality, deeply-rooted in his Yao culture inspired by his Malawian origin.
He belonged to the Yao tribe of the Miranga totem.
Manzi grew up in the Yao community which exposed him to the creation of masks, stimulating his art skills at an early age.
He won several awards including at the National Arts Merit Awards. In 1987, he clinched a merit award at the Nedlaw exhibition.
Manzi’s works are in overseas collections. He is survived by wife Jenet, also a first-generation artist, and seven children.