Self-taught artist celebrates Magufuli

Saturday July 10 2021
President Magufuli and his predecessors

President Magufuli with his predecessors Nyerere, Mwinyi, Mkapa and Kikwete. PICTURE | COURTESY


A solo art exhibition titled Shades of Magufuli by Dar es Salaam-based architect-cum-artist Undare Mtaki opened in June at the famous artists’ space, Drum, in Masaki, Dar es Salaam to rave reviews. The exhibition celebrates the life of the former Tanzania president John Magufuli, and ends July 11.

The artist used acrylic on canvas and creates texture with sand from Mwanza and stones from Chato, Magufuli’s ancestral home.

Undare, 27, is a self-taught artist who only pursued his artistic talent after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Architectural Engineering from Ardhi University of Dar es Salaam.


Undare’s pieces depict Magufuli in military wear to show his larger-than-life persona and leadership. In real life, as the Commander-In-Chief, Magufuli only wore military uniform occasionally for military events.

In creating the pieces, Undare’s said, “After finishing the sketches I used glue to mark the patterns. It was not co-ordinated, I sort of danced around the canvas while spraying the glue on top of the sketches afterwards I came to apply the acrylic colours on top.

Undare Mtaki

Undare Mtaki, 27, a talented local artist based in Dar Es Salaam, with his pieces of Magufuli at the solo exhibition ‘’Shades of Magufli, at the Drum in Masaki, Dar in July 2021. PHOTO | COURTESY

All his pieces have small square and rectangle boxes, identifying his work.

“I normally connect my artwork with my home in Mwanza. I used the stones from Magufuli’s hometown of Chato and the sand is from my hometown of Sizu on the shores of Lake Victoria.”

Undare said he always harboured the idea of working on portraits of Magufuli for an exhibition but never had the pieces ready, but his sudden death accelerated his work.

“After his passing, the motive to celebrate his life was strong and I wanted to bring him back to life through art, so I used my art to celebrate his life as well.”

The Shades of Magufuli features mainly portraits of Magufuli, one of the current President Samia Suluhu Hassan and one with all Tanzania’s past presidents, from founding father Julius Nyerere, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Benjamin William Mkapa and Magufuli, in green, yellow, blue and black of the country’s flag.

“The group painting was inspired by the late Mkapa. I made it the time he passed away that’s why he and Nyerere aren’t seen clearly but Magufuli is,” explains Undare.

Undare says he already has work for his next exhibition before the end of the year.