Abdullah Yembe’s painting was born during the peak of the Covid-19 lockdown. The work of art that is now attracting tourists for photo ops, was created to give hope and resilience.
AAt the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, a cloud of uncertainty hovered over many lives and careers. Abdullah Salem Yembe, an artist in Jinja decided to provide some creative therapy – a colourful mural to cheer the community during the times.
“With so much space in isolation as a result of the lockdown, I came up with a creative idea to help my people cope with the dark times; depression, anxiety, stress, fatigue and low self-esteem,” he explains.
It is a self-imposing beauty that locals and tourists alike cannot miss given its position right along the street. The mural is colourful and with some identifiable faces of local celebrities, it has turned out to be a backdrop for lovers of photography in Jinja, dubbed the ‘city of adventure’. The town is home to adrenaline-rush activities such as white water rafting, quad biking, bungee jumping, zip lining and much more.
Yembe was born in Walukuba East, Jinja. From an early age, he demonstrated an innate artistic talent and continued to bring his creative passion to fruition.
In 2007, he pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Fine Art and Design at Uganda Christian University, Mukono.
He moved back to live in Jinja in 2010 where he owns and runs an art studio space. The studio is just meters away from the art mural that showcases happy faces of some local and internationally celebrated names which is an exhibition of the artist’s expression of human anatomy, so to say, a communication of mental health entirely.
His motivation for putting together the mural was partly born out of loss of income when the government called for social distancing to minimise the spread of the pandemic.
International flights were cancelled and so art galleries and craft villages closed as well as theatres, cinemas and staged concerts.
Yembe calls on fellow artists to contribute to patterns on the Wall of Fame mural, which started in June 2020, and it is still a work in progress. It is colourful and deliberate in order to help reduce boredom and passivity, thus improving attention spans, stimulating the visual sense and helping audiences remember facts and figures.
“It is outstanding because it is the only realistic mural in Jinja. It’s a signature that has revealed our mastery in portraiture, it has also introduced us to collaborations with visual artists in and outside Jinja,” Yembe somewhat boasts.
The portraiture artistic representation is 23 by 18 feet.
“I dedicate this art mural to my friends and family and the wider community. This mural, I believe, will always encourage us to use our time in isolation to learn to be more caring and connected to each other and the world,” Yembe explains.
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