By Azania Reporter and Agencies
Tingatinga Art is a painting style that developed in the second half of the 20th century which named after a Tanzanian painter Edward Said Tingatinga who began painting around 1968 in Tanzania (Dar es Salaam).
Tingatinga paintings are not for the satisfactory of eyes’ desire but it can be defined as “silent teacher” to Tanzanian generations and foreigners; it impart about the natural beauty of Tanzania, and the endowed rich natural resource like wild animals, rivers and mountains.
The Tingatinga paintings are broadly symbolized formulae of tourist-oriented art in Tanzania, Kenya and neighboring countries whereas Tanzania has been receiving foreign visitor each year whereby the numbers rose from 783,000 in 2010 to 1.14m in 2014. And the annual revenues raised from $1.2bn to $2bn over the same period.
While in Tanzania the foreigner got opportunity to visit at the different tourist attraction, but some used the Tingatinga printings (art) to know Mount Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater, Cheetah's Rock (Zanzibar Island) and National Parks.
Despite the death of Tingatinga in 1972, his work lives today, the style was so popular that it had started a wide movement of imitators and followers, sometimes informally referred to as the "Tingatinga School”.
The Tingatinga work has hereditary to other generation who continue to use illustration in telling stories, and teaching many people about the importance of preserving the environment and Tanzanian Culture.
Raymond Amos is a Tanzanian youth who lives his dream through his hands, nothing has been pleasing him than painting. He spent one-year learning about Tinga-tinga painting in Bagamoyo Coast Region.
“Painting is my passion, after completed my Secondary School education (Form Four) in Kenya, I invested my life into painting, and am not regretting doing what my heart tells me to. I don’t think of quitting this job and being employed somewhere,” he told Azania Post.
Being working for almost seven years, Amosi said that such a work assists him to improve his livelihood. He is among several painters at Mwenge area alias ‘Mwenge Vinyago’ in Kinondoni district, Dar es Salaam.
He declared that through doing and selling Tingatinga paintings to his agent, he managed to buy a farm in Kibaha district in Coast region where he hired someone to keep livestock (hens and goats).
He said: “I always sell my products in a price relating with the quality, the costs range between 15,000/- and 25,000/-, but I hate those who undermine the painting work simply because they don’t know how to do painting but only selling the paintings, they have been selling poor products at the low cost of up to 3500/-.”
Tingatinga paintings can be considered a form of "airport art". The drawings themselves can be described as both naïve and caricatural, and humor and sarcasm are often explicit.
The first generation of artists from the Tingatinga school basically reproduced the works of the school's founder. In the 1990s new trends emerged within the Tingatinga style, in response to the transformations that the Tanzanian society was undergoing after independence.
From very humble beginnings, Edward Saidi Tingatinga became world famous. Unfortunately bullets from a police gun mercilessly cut his life short. However, the art of painting he developed makes him live among lovers of art forever.
In early 1968 he started painting by using brush and oil colours. He painted animals and other scenes and motifs on square hard boards, usually 60cm x 60cm in size. In 1972 he secured a job at the Muhimbili Medical Centre in Dar es Salaam.
Although, he continued to paint and sell his paintings. Things eventually started to work in Tingatinga’s favour. One day a tourist, who had bought one of his ‘Tinga Tinga Art’ paintings, introduced him to the then National Arts Company. The company became very interested in Tingatinga’s paintings and it was agreed that Tingatinga should supply them with his work.
This enabled him to become financially secure and meant he could live entirely on painting Tinga Tinga art. Tingatinga also took several of his young relatives on as apprentices. At first, they were just helping him with his work however later he began encouraging them to do their own paintings.
One Saturday night, in 1972, Tingatinga met his untimely and tragic end. There were three people in a Volkswagen Beetle speeding away from police car in Dar es Salaam. The police had mistaken it for a getaway car used by robbers and Tingatinga was shot. He died on his way top hospital.
He died aged forty leaving behind his wife and two children. His son Daudi is presently an active member of the Tingatinga community. Although Edwards Saidi Tingatinga is dead, his memory is still fresh and alive among us all. His art will make him live forever.