Muralist behind Mbuya Nehanda-King Lobengula bares it all

Mbulelo Mpofu, Showbiz Reporter
OVER the past week, the wall adjacent to the City Hall has served as a canvas for muralists to exhibit their artistry.

Last Saturday residents woke up to a mural depicting King Lobengula and Mbuya Nehanda embracing each other on the council wall at the corner of Fife Street and 8th Avenue.

There has been a lot of speculation around the identity of muralist behind the art with some suggesting that it was  Leeroy “Spinx” Brittain.

The mural was erased by Bulawayo City Council (BCC) authorities on Monday citing illegalities.

Bulawayo Deputy Mayor Councillor Mlandu Ncube explained why the mural was taken down.

“The issue is not about the message that the mural is carrying, but rather the crime of not getting clearance from relevant authorities to do it.

One cannot just wake up in the morning and draw something on council property.

You need clearance to do so as sometimes, your work might be carrying a message that is against the values of the council.

“Failure to be cleared may lead to a fine or in the worst-case scenario, a jail term so people must be aware of council laws and how the city operates,” Clr Ncube said earlier in the week.

King Lobengula-Mbuya Nehanda mural before being erased and Bulawayo City Council employees scrapping off the mural

Initially, Spinx distanced himself from the mural but later admitted that he was the one behind the art.

Widely-known for murals of Soneni Gwizi, Sandra Ndebele, Sarah Mpofu-Sibanda, Busi Ncube, Mbo Mahocs, Berita and Stella Nkomo at the corner of 4th Ave and Jason Moyo in Bulawayo, Spinx has also painted the Red Cafe.

He did art for the Shoko Festival and the National Art Gallery in Bulawayo.

The “controversial figure” as Cypher alluded to Spinx in an interview that the two had a decade ago, said he denied ownership of the piece as he wanted to “know more information on how the City Council was going about finding the person who did it.”

“At first, I didn’t want to associate myself with the art without knowing fully what the City Council knew about the brains behind the piece.

But I’ve come to the realisation that it’s stupid for me not to own up to my deeds since a lot of people now know that I’m the one behind that piece. I own up to my deeds,” he said.

Pressed on the reasons why he did that mural, Spinx had a ready answer for what he described as “the unity piece”.

“So, a lot of people have been asking me about the reason I did the unity piece.

The answer lies in the fact that I was raised by my Ndebele grandmother and Shona grandfather so that makes me confidently say that I was raised by unconditional love,” he said after sharing a photo of himself when he was a toddler on the lap of his grandfather who sat beside his grandmother.

The self-proclaimed “rebel for a cause” justified his actions under the banner of unifying tribes and pushing the narrative of inter-tribal marriages.

“I have Shona cousins and I have children at home whom I don’t want to subject to a legacy of hatred.

At the end of the day, I want my children to grow up in an environment like the one I grew up in, one filled with love.

“The aforementioned sentiments made me realise that I don’t have to hide, but stand for what I believe in and that’s love and acceptance,” he added.

— @eMKlass_49.

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