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YOUNGSTOWN Zimbabwean works are art for children's sake



Published: Sat, April 6, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Proceeds from the art sales are split between a local children's organization and the Zimbabwe village.

By JoANNE VIVIANO

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Caspar Darare was 49 when he died last year of AIDS.

The Zimbabwean artisan left six children who struggle to survive.

He also left his sculptures.

Darare's cousin hopes the man's work, and the works of other artists from Chitengu village, will raise money for children there, many who are orphaned, sick, starving, destitute and unschooled.

Washington Chakanyuka has brought the sculptures to Youngstown for viewing and sale at the Give the Children A Chance Inc. offices in the Phar-Mor Centre on Federal Plaza West.

Proceeds will be split between the village and the local Give the Children A Chance organization. The sculptures will be sold during the day Monday.

"The work represents my village, their dreams, their aspirations," Chakanyuka said.

Zimbabwe, formerly called Rhodesia, is in South Africa.

About the art: The sculptures of animals, families, bodies and busts have been chiseled and chipped from green-and-brown verdite, smooth butter jade, black serpentine, bronze, copper and wood by members of the Shona ethnic group in the African nation. They take months to create.

A verdite bust of Chief Mufasa of Shona legend stares ahead with a feather in his headband. The feather, Chakanyuka said, is akin to a medal of honor.

Other faces of women and men offer details: The women with head wraps are married; those with hair showing are single.

A verdite rhinoceros is a reminder that the animals are becoming extinct in Africa.

Helping children: One goal of the fund-raising effort, Chakanyuka said, is to bring a well to the village of 450 residents, one-third of which are children. The village has dry rivers and no water supply. Now, women must walk five miles to get the drinking water they share with animals.

Children work in fields and look after animals. In between chores, they go to schools where books are scarce and 60 to 70 children are instructed by one teacher.

The funds, Chakanyuka said, will bring water, but also education and medications for those suffering from malaria, dysentery, urinary tract diseases and AIDS. In the Chitengu group of artists, six people have died from AIDS in the past six months.

The project began in Iowa, where Chakanyuka paired with a Rotary Club chapter to bring his sculptures there. He has since taken sculptures to Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and Ohio. He plans to also visit New York before heading back to Africa next week.

The Rev. David Clark of the Church of the Redeemer Mission in Pennsylvania has helped bring the sculptures to Youngstown.

"The vision is to create an opportunity, a chance for the children of Youngstown, Ohio, to communicate with children in the Chitengu Village," the Rev. Mr. Clark said.

Some of the larger sculptures -- weighing hundreds of pounds -- will remain at the Give the Children a Chance center for display for local children and residents to view. Chakanyuka also will regularly send pieces for sale.

Chakanyuka, a teacher and an artist, represents about 25 artists, their families and neighbors from his village.

"They feel if I come represent the village and convey their dreams and aspirations, someday they will have some clean water to drink," Chakanyuka said. "We can grow our own crops, and our children will have food and water."

viviano@vindy.com




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