African heritage captured in digital art and poetry

Monday December 25 2023

Denzel Muhumuza’s digital artwork “Journey Within”. PHOTO | POOL


The artworks of the Ugandan digital artist Denzel Muhumuza and the poetry by the Rwandan writer Gretta Ingabire at the exhibition The Sun, The Moon and The Truth at the Akamwesi Mall dwell on nature, everyday life, and several aspects of the rich African cultural heritage.

Woven Worlds is a captivating piece from Muhumuza’s collection, The Sun, The Moon, and The Truth, where the vastness of the planetary solar system is re-imagined through the lens of traditional woven baskets.

“Each celestial body finds representation in the intricate patterns and textures of these culturally significant artefacts. This artwork symbolises the connection between our culture and the universe, emphasising that our roots are intricately woven into the cosmic fabric,” Muhumuza said.

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Woven Worlds invites viewers to contemplate the interplay between tradition and the cosmos, fostering a deeper understanding of how our cultural heritage is not only rooted in the universe but intricately woven into its very essence,” he added.

In Tales by the River, the moonlight casts a mesmerizing glow on a vast landscape as a herd of majestic long-horned Ankole cows gracefully depart from the riverbank.


According to Muhumuza, this artwork is a tribute to the rich cultural heritage of the Bachwezi, who are believed to manifest with expansive herds of cows, particularly under the luminous night sky. Set in Ibanda, the piece captures the essence of local folklore and the captivating narratives surrounding the Bachwezi.

Tales by the River serves as a visual storytelling conduit, inviting viewers to immerse themselves in the enchanting stories that echo through the village, connecting past and present through the enduring legacy of the Bachwezi,” Muhumuza says.

Earth’s Embrace depicts the serene beauty of rural Uganda, where a lady farmer stands amidst her cauliflower-laden farm, cradling a basket of nature’s bounty. “This piece serves as a poignant tribute to the profound connection between humanity and the earth, highlighting the nurturing embrace of agriculture. The farmer’s tranquil gaze reflects the symbiotic relationship we share with the land, showcasing the earth as a provider and sustainer,” Muhumuza says.

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According to Muhumuza, Earth’s Embrace invites viewers to reflect on the essential role of agriculture in our lives, emphasizing the reciprocal bond between humans and the earth as a source of nourishment, growth, and sustenance.

Muhumuza’s other artworks are The Seed of Life, Rooted in FaithKanyamaza, Pathways of ExistenceConnected by the Roots, Journey Within, Family Trees, Third Eye Open, Portal of Fort, Burning Like The Sun, The Milky Way, Ancestral Echoes, Ankole Falls, and The Universe Hides in All.

Ingabire has three poems Ancestral presence, What We Are, and Freethinking.

“Ancestral presence” is about the achievements and resilience of our forefathers as storytellers, their spirits and tree shrines. “A mystical embrace of the ancestral presence/Where spirits of the land and people interlace/Trees like Icubya, Rwandan forgotten 300-year-old shrine tree/Are storytellers of the distant past/Of ancestors who journeyed, leaving their mark/Stories of resilience they hold for decades/Trees like these still carry reverence/Reminds us of Dignity and Respect…,” the poem reads in part.

The poem What We Are reminds us of the everyday life of our ancestors and how they bonded with nature.

“We are because they were/The danced to the rhythms of thunder and rain/Celebrating life’s cycles, both joy and pain/The weather seasons they learned to read, and ability that remained/From the blossoming sunflowers in the rainy season/To the millet that tolerates the dry season/A sacred bond with nature, they did understand so well/For nature’s cycles they found their own,” goes the poem What We Are.

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The poem Freethinking suggests that we should look at things different from the surface one comes from. Conformity for the sake of conformity is a dead soul in a body, it notes.

This exhibition is a project outcome of Vivid Synergies’s first artists in residency group Muhumuza, Ingabire and Gloria Coutinho – a project by Afriart Gallery connecting East African artists, writers and curators based in Uganda, supported by a grant from Ignite Culture: ACP-EU Culture Programme (Eastern Africa).

The exhibition’s curator, Coutinho, says that the works of Muhumuza and Ingabire usher us into a world of mindfulness and enlightenment, stimulating the audience to tap into our already existing inner connection with our natural environment, cultivating a sense of appreciation as well as attempting to rekindle ancestral bonds through the lens of culture and tradition.

According to Coutinho, Denzel’s art works manifest as surrealistic digital collages that portray people existing within tranquil natural environments and amongst celestial bodies that are part of the vast universe. The writings of Gretta manifest as a verbal art form; an extension of the visual art and this shared narrative expressed by way of poetry and storytelling.

“While the exhibition is a celebration of beauty and a reinforcement of connectivity, it also an open gateway into socio- political dialogue regarding our existence within/as a part of nature, digging deeper into our spirituality and connections with our ancestral roots and beliefs as people of African descent,” Coutinho says.

The visual art and poetry showcase that opened on December 2, 2023 at the Akamwesi Mall Shopping Mall along the Gayaza-Kampala Road in Wakiso District will close on January 6, 2024.