Dinka elegance presented in mixed-medium collage

Sunday July 30 2023

Amera by Tindi Ronnie Chris. PHOTO | BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI | NMG


The Dinka, a Nilotic ethnic group mainly found in South Sudan, have endured years of civil war, displacement, and environmental challenges, which would otherwise have dulled their celebration of their culture and traditions. But this community, which boasts some of the tallest people in East Africa, is known for resilience in the face of adversity.

And so it is that Ugandan visual artist and painter Tindi Ronnie Chris has chosen to showcase the Dinka culture in a mixed-medium collage, in a series titled Shadow of the Dinka depicting elegant human figures and their shadows with small heads, long necks, hands and fingers.

Using kitenge fabric offcuts and other material, Tindi explores the theme of the Dinka people and their cultural heritage in the exhibition that opened on July 15 and closes on August 19.

Kitenge fabrics are an integral part of African culture, particularly in East Africa. So, it is not surprising that the tale of Dinka culture is on fabric.

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“I find their story inspiring and worth telling,” Tindi says, adding that he is working closely with Dinka individuals and scholars for accuracy in his portrayals. Through each episode, I seek to explore different facets, such as their art, music, spirituality, and social structures, painting a holistic picture of their identity and way of life,” he adds.


Tindi says the titles of the artworks are the real names of the Dinka people. However, for the actual meaning in the paintings, he leaves it to the people to interpret what they see. Ater, for example, shows a man seated on a stool while resting his left hand on an ornately carved walking stick, while Thon depicts a man standing with a bird perched on his right hand and another bird below his left leg.

In Akur, a woman is carrying a child on her back, while a woman is holding a handbag in Amer, another series. Ayala shows a woman in a pensive mood seated on a stool with her chin resting on her right hand. In Kuch, a man is shown seated on a stool crossed-legged with his left hand resting on the right leg.

The Shadow of the Dinka is showing at the Xenson Art Space in Kampala.

Through his use of vibrant colours, intricate patterns, and layered texture, Tindi creates a visual narrative that celebrates the beauty and resilience of the Dinka people, while also shedding light on their struggles with displacement, conflict and discrimination.

Tindi’s art reminds us of the power of creativity to bridge gaps, promote empathy, and inspire positive change.

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“I chose to paint the Dinka because their culture and way of life fascinates me,” Tindi says.

“Their strong sense of community, their cattle herding traditions and their intricate body scarification patterns are all visually compelling and rich in symbolism. By painting the Dinka, I can celebrate their heritage and raise awareness about their way of life.”

“I have always been drawn to the beauty of human diversity, and the Dinka people are a perfect example of that. Their tall, slender physiques, their elaborate hairstyles, and their colourful clothing are all elements that I find visually striking. By painting the Dinka, I hope to showcase their unique aesthetic and challenge people’s preconceptions about what is considered beautiful.”

“As an artist, I find their story inspiring and worth telling. By painting the Dinka, I hope to honour their struggles and highlight their strength,” Tindi adds.

Through each episode, he seeks to explore different facets, such as their art, music, spirituality, and social structures, painting a holistic picture of their identity and way of life.