Grade 10 learner sells his paintings to pay for school

Innocent Mukanyima wants to finish school before becoming a professional artist

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Photo of boy next to paintings
Sixteen-year-old Innocent Mukanyima began painting two years ago and has been using the proceeds from his sales to pay his school fees. Photo supplied

For two years Innocent Mukanyima has funded his schooling by selling his paintings.

Mukanyima, 16, is a grade 10 learner at Vengere High School in Rusape, a small town east of Harare in Zimbabwe. Since he began high school he has paid a portion of his fees through the sale of his art.

“One weekend I decided to paint my environment. I went into our yard … and painted the scene on manila paper,” says Mukanyima. “I showed my friend Crispen and we decided to look for a buyer.”

The painting sold for 15 Zimbabwean Bond (about R100). He used the money to pay a portion of his school fees (95 Bond per term, about R600), and now devotes most of his time after school to painting. “I believe this is the only way I can continue my education,” he says.

Mukanyima’s school friend Crispen Garira is a more experienced artist and gave him the materials for his first painting. Garira has since taught Mukanyima how to sketch with pencil. They have turned a room at Garira’s home into a makeshift studio.

Both Mukanyima’s parents are unemployed and struggling to find jobs in Zimbabwe’s crippled economy. His father Fungai Mukanyima worked as a cleaner for a beverage company before being retrenched in 2008.

The family also had a small-scale poultry farm but could not keep it going. “Prices change all the time and we were forced to abandon the project,” says his mother Memory Mukanyima. She now sells fruit and clothing on the roadside.

Between her and Mukanyima they manage to cover the school fees.

Memory believes her son could be the future breadwinner of the family. “Innocent is not very academic but he has a passion for art … With the right materials I believe he can make it.”

Mukanyima says better quality materials would help make his art more marketable but he “cannot afford to buy good materials like canvas, acrylic and oil paint, tints and charcoal pencils”.

He aims to complete ordinary level schooling (equivalent to approximately grade 10 in South Africa) before becoming a full-time artist.

“I believe you should follow your passion and not pay attention to criticism because it will hold you back. Have patience in whatever you do,” says Mukanyima.

TOPICS:  Arts and culture Education

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