Artist highlighting COVID-19 experiences in African societies through paintings

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Art is said to be one of the most compelling ways of communicating ideas and experiences.

It is for this reason that an artist based in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, is using paintings to tell stories about how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting African societies.

Jonathan Kabeya, a contemporary visual artist has come up with a series of paintings under the banner "Behind the mask."

"Wearing of facemasks has become a part of our daily lives. That is the reason why there is a facemask in most of my pieces about COVID-19," Kabeya pointed out.

The 24-year-old explained that he was compelled to come up with the paintings to encourage people to share thoughts and experiences about the pandemic so as to enable communities to devise better responses.

Kabeya, who hails from Lubumbashi City in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a firm believer in contemporary African art and its ability to transform communities for the better. He is currently studying English language at a college in Lusaka.

Kabeya recently held a weeklong solo art exhibition under the theme "Behind the mask" in Lusaka, where he showcased all the 12 pieces of his work on the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The rationale behind the exhibition was to afford the public an opportunity to learn through art, how the COVID-19 crisis has presented not only challenges but also great opportunities for societal growth," explained Kabeya.

He expressed happiness at the turnout and the support received from the general public during and after the exhibition, adding that a lot of people continue to demonstrate interest in buying his art pieces on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the issues tackled through Kabeya's artworks is violence against women and girls, a phenomenon that has become more pronounced amid the pandemic in many countries.

"It is sad to note that some men are hiding behind facemasks and attacking women and girls. Victims are left to suffer in silence, as they are not able to identify perpetrators. I hope governments act quickly to end this kind of violence," he said.

Kabeya's paintings also bring out issues of indiscriminate disposal of facemasks, a situation that poses a lot of danger to society. He noted that in as much as the facemasks are meant to protect from COVID-19, they can be a health hazard if not properly disposed of.

There is also a painting depicting the importance of education in containing the COVID-19 crisis and one that shows how African people are using local remedies to manage the pandemic, among others.

"The COVID-19 crisis has shown that African societies are resilient and capable of surviving difficult times. This can be seen from the ingenious coping mechanisms adopted by a number of African communities," Kabeya observed.

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