In 2010, Zimbabwean-born painter Richard Mudariki was forced to leave his homeland for South Africa so that he could tell the stories of his people. Had he stayed, it would have been impossible for him to practise his craft without being arrested on trumped-up charges such as treason.

This is because his paintings show how a country that was once considered Africa’s bread basket and a haven for the arts has been torn apart.

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“At one point, in the 1930s and 1940s, Zimbabwe had renowned artists such as Bernard Matemera and Sylvester Nubaye, both exceptionally talented sculptors who formed part of what became the influential Shona Sculpture Movement. We went from that level to a place where the arts industry is almost non-existent due to ill-advised policies, corruption and a general disregard for the population,” says Mudariki.

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Asked what he believes it will take for the country’s arts to recover, now that President Emmerson Mnangagwa is in power, he said: “The role of any Zimbabwean artist right now – whether in the country or not – is to document last year’s historic changeover of power from Robert Mugabe to Mnangagwa,” he says. “In addition, artists are stakeholders in the Zimbabwean economy as the creative sector can help drive the new economy.”

Mudariki will be showcasing a number of his works at the Volta Art Fair in New York this month. Visit:

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