BEADWORK is the art or craft of attaching beads to one another by stringing them onto a thread or thin wire with a sewing or beading needle or sewing them to cloth. Beads are produced in a diverse range of materials, shapes and sizes and vary according to the kind of art produced. Local visual artist Elisha “Ras Mhunha” Chikazha is making a living through wire and bead artwork. The 37-year-old Chitungwiza-based Ras Mhunha has been a professional bead and wire artist since 2012. His art has been recognised as far as the United Kingdom. Apart from bead and wire art, Ras Mhunha is also a popular master of ceremony around Harare and Chitungwiza. NewsDay Weekender caught up with Ras Mhunha, who shared his artisticjourney.
I was born and raised in the dormitory town of Chitungwiza, which is St Mary’s neighbourhood. I discovered the gift at a young age from my brothers who were all skilled at creating works of art out of beads and wires. Despite being intelligent at school, I was unable to take my O’ Level examinations because of financial difficulties. As a result, I considered pursuing my love in art and I have since found success in this industry.
While the essence and appreciation of art is slowly sinking into my fellow countrymen, however, my artifacts mostly attract foreign customers especially in Wales, United Kingdom. My art is also popular at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and I have met with over 60 students from the university who visited Love Zimbabwe Community Centre in Domboshava for voluntary work since 2012. The students love my art and I hope that one day I will get a chance to pursue an educational qualification in art at University of Wales Trinity Saint David.
The greatest highlight of my career was when I sold my art to the famous American actress, filmmaker, and humanitarian Angelina Jolie in September 2019. I was so glad to receive a call from Martha, who made me speak to Jolie, who is a big actress known worldwide telling me that she really liked my art and bought some of my pieces.
- Mr President, you missed the opportunity to be the veritable voice of conscience
- ED to commission new-look border post
- Zanu PF ready for congress
- EU slams Zim over delayed reforms
If resources allow me, my wish is to come up with a park made out of beads and wire — with all trees, flowers and chairs all made out of beads and wire. I believe this will be a good tourist attraction park that can boost our economy as per President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s request for youths to do projects that benefit the country. As time moves, I wish to extend my knowledge to those who are willing to learn making wire and beads art. It would be my pleasure to see beads and wire art being included in schools as arts subjects so that this precious art lives forever.
It was quite challenging in the beginning to balance my art and being involved in music. I have, however, managed to stay strong and fortunately I am now reaping what I sow.
Being able to work with international customers has given me the opportunity to give back to the community through donations of food hampers to the less privileged. As part of giving back to the community, I once collaborated with popular dancehall chanter Darlington “Dhadza D” Zhanje in donating groceries and planting trees at Salvation Army Church in Manyame Park where there is an old people’s home. I thank my brother Andrew Musoni who is also a local music promoter who helps me to market my art locally.
Away from wire and beads
Working in showbiz I have managed to meet youths who are passionate about music and currently I am manager to dancehall artiste Munashe “Mabhinya” Kutsira. I have also helped a lot of other youths through songwriting and paying for their studio fees. I have also done this to some big artistes whom I cannot mention.
Follow Rejoice on Twitter @rejoicephi1998