Bongo artists go for NFTs and extended reality pieces

Saturday November 27 2021
Art lovers

Art lovers experiencing live art during AR exhibition at The Drum space, in Dar es Salaam. PHOTO | COURTESY


Tanzania's art industry has been evolving over the years and with technological advancement, the industry is bringing more eyeballs to creative works of arts crafted by the art community.

With technology advancement, Tanzanian artists have not only been able to tell their stories differently, they have also been able to get the long waited for exposure in the market arena whilst making their audience and stakeholders interested and invested in their creative works.

Speaking to The EastAfrican, several artists in Tanzania have shared their experiences since they started blending art with technology.

Arafa Hamadi, a digital artist based in Dar es Salaam said technology was one of the things that rescued the art industry when the Coronavirus pandemic hit.

“As much as the pandemic brought the world misery, it was a blessing in disguise for artists especially in our country because we found new spaces to work in. We have seen our audience slowly gaining interest in the new spaces including 3D spaces and Augmented Reality (AR),” said Arafa.

Ngaira Mandara, a visual artist based in Dar es Salaam said that technology has made it easier for artists to explore and create new experiences.


“Before technology, I used to draw on paper and painted on canvas, and I had no means of showcasing my talent to the world beyond my close friends and family. As time went by, I wanted to differently create works of art whilst showcasing them to the world, and as I did this, not only did it better my talent but it gave me exposure to the pieces I created,” said Ngaira.

The 30-year old artist said technology has positively impacted the Tanzanian art industry by giving artists multiple platforms to share their arts including Instagram, Twitter, and Walli as well as giving them an opportunity to experience art through Extended Reality (XR).

According to Ngaira, the Tanzania art industry is now seeing promising changes as it has gained a spotlight from local and international viewers as well as being part of the global market. He explains that when exhibitions are organised by artists and stakeholders to showcase art, it is likely that many people will participate hence giving artists the deserved exposure.

As he explained the future of art in technology, Ngaira said artificial intelligence and the now trending non-fungible Tokens (NFTs) are looking to be the future of art because with them, artists are able to create their artworks and stories differently and better.

“With NFTs, artists can now create and sell artworks that are made digitally. This is a great opportunity that should definitely be embraced by all artists in the country,” said Ngaira.

Ananias Nyalada, an artist who is also based in Dar es Salaam, technology has greatly impacted the art industry in terms of its creation, learning and audience.


He said larger audiences in Tanzania and beyond are now more likely to come across artists’ creations through different platforms. With technology, an artist can create something and share it on social media, and when a person wants to buy that particular art, it can easily be sent to them.

Ananias explained that “art has now become a limitless arena that has endless opportunities that assure an artist of their talent growth alongside a whole different experience enabled by different devices and gadgets.”

For Undare Mtaki, a painter who resides in Mwanza, technology advancement has revealed a whole new side of art and how it can be improved to global standards.

“Artists' involvement with technology speaks volumes of their work because it assures gradual development of their skills as well as in selling their works. I started involving myself with social media when I was a first year student at Ardhi University in 2014. I was doing art as a side hustle to keep up with multiple bills. To do it correctly, I decided to have an Instagram account so that people would know what I do,” he said

Undare, whose work is made of materials reflecting the art, said technology is a powerful tool that should be explored by artists. Spotlighting himself as an example, Undare recalled how his solo exhibition titled ''Shades of Magufuli'' held at the The Drum space this past June, made him reliase the importance of technology.

It was after the exhibition's opening day, that Undare posted up an Instagram weekly advertisement influencing people to visit his exhibition and physically see his artworks.

“Seeing people responding to that advertisement made me see this whole other side of the power social media carries. Not only did the number of exhibition attendees increase, I was also pushed to open my own art gallery that was in the works since 2018,” he said.

Ramadhan King’oma, who makes artistic pieces by scribbling on materials like woods and other surfaces, taught himlsef the techniques through online lesson inspired by the likes of Vincent Low and Erick Centeno, globally renowned artists.

“It took me six years of online lessons on scribbling and sketching from these renowned artists who have taught me to embrace this less known type of art. As time went by, I advanced to digital scribbling with special devices as a way of understanding the work I do even more, technology has helped me understand art and it has pushed me to share my work so that I can somehow be an inspiration for young artists who are yet to find their niche in art,” said King’oma.


According to Tulanana Bohela, Cofounder of Ona Stories, a technological story telling company, art and technology have a complex but meaningful history of working together and influencing one another.

She explained that museums are now showcasing art collections online while artists have all the tools they need at their fingertips to promote and sell their own pieces, often without the challenges that come with running a physical exhibit.

“The more technology grows the more opportunities there will be for art to develop. Artists now have the endless canvas of the digital world to create. In Tanzania, we have seen artists use immersive media of AR to create interactive experiences for their audiences. Audiences can use their phone and scan an image that then comes to life. It provides more personal interactive experience that holds the attention of the audience for longer,” said Bohela.