August 28, 2003
There were not many visitors and we were the only ones to watch the traditional dancing and listen to the drummers. One used the metal seat of a chair as a drum, others had traditional drums. They were full of energy and clearly enjoyed what they were doing. They only spoke Swahili so communication after the performance was slightly difficult. But we could make clear that we had enjoyed the performance.
There are also resident artists and I bought some clay figurines from Petro Paulo Mayige. His figurines depict scenes from village life. I bought a man playing bao. This is a board with four rows of eight holes and sixty-four counters which have to be moved in a certain way to capture your opponent’s counters. The little man I bought has a triumphant facial expression because he is winning. His opponent looks, who is loosing, looks very sad.
I also bought a young girl with a baby on her back who is picking unripe rice from a big bowl.
I didn’t know that the artist is quite famous. As a young boy he watched the older women in his village making clay pots. He would take some of the clay and make his own creations. As a young man he worked in the casting department of the national museum for some time. But now he has his own workshop in the Village Museum. Some of his work can be seen in the National Museum in Dar es Salaam, Skansen Museum in Stockholm and the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C., USA. It was only after I had bought my figurines that the artist told me about his career. Actually I was quite proud that I had recognised real talent.
Petro Paulo Mayige
From journal Dar es Salaam