GEORGE LILANGA AS A MOZAMBICAN REFUGEE
"The Lilanga´s biography presented in books and on exhibitions worldwide was fabricated. The big auctions houses, national museums and galleries copied blindly each other. How could be Lilanga born in Kikwetu in Masasi district and could attend a school in Lutamba when such places even do not exist?"
George Lilanga was not born in Tanzania as narrated in his official CV. He was born in Mozambique where he lived almost half of his life. He came to Tanzania as a Mozambican refugee together with his wife when he was 30 years old.
The first wife of George Lilanga is still living in Mueda, Mozambique...
...And even his first-born daughter and his two grand children are living in Mozambique
Andre, the son of Lilanga´s mother´s sister is showing an old photo of George Lilanga
The grave of mother of George Lilanga is situated in Mchauru Mwitika in Tanzania where she escaped the Mozambican war as George Lilanga
As thousands of fellow refugees escaping the war, he and his wife were provided shelter in Rutamba refugee camp near Lindi. After 3 years they moved to Kikwetu village where his wife gave birth to his daughter Juliet.
Shortly after the birth of Juliet, Lilanga decided to move to Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital of Tanzania. However his wife refused to follow with him and instead returned back to Mozambique. She took Juliet with her.His first wife and the child still live in Mozambique and while George Lilanga never returned back to his native country, the child as well as other relatives frequently visited him in Dar es Salaam.
George Lilanga, one of the most famous African artists, was born in Nandimba situated 10 km from Mueda, Mozambique in year 1934. Being born to Suwakina Mkosi and George Lilanga, both of Makonde tribe, he quickly learned the Makonde carving skills from his relatives. The name Lilanga means hole (in dress) in Makonde language and comes from his farther's surname who passed away in Nandimba in 60-ties. He was the first one to use the name Lilanga; his mother was called Julieta And father's name was Nkapimile.
George Lilanga's mother Suwakina Mkosi was one of 7 children born to Maria Mkosi and Jakobo whose grave is still cared for by the Mkosi family. The other children were Sawaka, Antony, Maria, Julieta, Jakobo, Simao. Her daughter Virginia still lives in Nandimba with her husband and son Andre. Lilanga,s mother escaped the Mozambican war before her son and settled on the other side of Ruvuma river in Tanzania where she passed away in 1977 in Mchauru Mwitika.
George Lilanga met his first wife Arainata Mfaume in his native village Nandimba. As all residents of the village, she was of Makonde tribe. When the war started, they emigrated to Tanzania in 1964. They crossed the Ruvuma river which makes the border between Mozambique and Tanzania near the village Ngapa. On the north bank of the river they met with Lilanga's mother and shortly settled not far from the river in the village Mchauru Mwitika until the mother died. Then they continued to the refugee camp Rutamba.
The Rutamba refugee camp was established in 1964 in the south-eastern part of Lindi Region about 50 km from the town of Lindi on the Indian Ocean shores. The settlement was established for about 10,000 Mozambiquan refugees who started flocking in Tanzania in October 1964 when FRELIMO took arms and started waging war against the Portuguese Government, as most of its members were being arrested, horribly tortured and finally killed after being accused of being political agitators. The majority of these refugees were of Makonde tribe. George Lilanga attended school for the first time in his life in Rutamba. Arainata gave birth to 2 children in Rutamba refugee camp but both died being around 1 year old due to poor sanitation in the refugee camp.
After staying in Rutamba for few years they later moved to Kikwetu village also situated in Lindi district. The third child called Juliet was born. But not long after the birth of the child George Lilanga met new woman in Kikwetu and moved with her to Dar es Salaam, where he also sought to find market for his Makonde sculptures. Arainata decided to move back to Nandimba with her new born child. They live now in Mueda (2011).
WHY IS THE OFFICIAL BIOGRAPHY WRONG?
Hundreds of galleries, museums and auctions houses claim that there is a village Kikwetu in Masasi district where George Lilanga was born. But there is no such village in Masasi district. Also they claim that George Lilanga moved later to city Lutamba. But such city does not exist.
Among the sources which claim that there is a village named Kikwetu and a city named Lutamba in south Tanzania are the famous National Gallery in Firenze, the venture capitalist Jena Pigozzi, the art critics Enrico Masceloni or the writer Cesare Pipi.
It is amazing to see how the museums and galleries blindly copy the name of the non-existent village and non-existent city in Tanzania. (Christa's Fine Tribal Art Gallery, Copenhague, Denmark, Saatchi & Saatchi Gallery, London, UK , Nantes Fine Art Museum, Nantes, France, Lenz Gallery of Art,Pregassona, Italy, Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, Germany, Hayward Gallery, London, UK, Grimaldi Forum, Monaco, France, Museum of Fine Art Houston, Houston, USA, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France and many others)
It is even more surprising that tens of books about biography of George Lilanga (see above the books from Natonal Gelery in Firenze) write about a city Lutamba where Lilanga went to school or a village Kikwetu in Masasi district where Lilanga was born. Both the village and the city was not identified yet simply because there they don’t exist. (books by Lucca Faccendo, Pipi Cesare, Enrico Masceloni, Peter Andreas Kamphausen, Jean Pigozzi and many other)
Cesare Pipi, could you show us the city of Lutamba? www.lilangamania.com George e la sua famiglia si spostarono successivamente nella citta´di Lutamba nel sud della Tanzania, al confine con il Mozambico. Qui George frequento´la scuola elementare per soli 4 anni dei 7 normalmente previsti. http
Judith Van den Bos, where is the Kikwetu village? www.georgelilanga.com George Lilanga was born in 1934 in Kikwetu village southern Tanzania and passed away in June 2005.
Lucca Faccenda (author of many books on Lilanga), where is the city Lutamba in south Tanzania? http://www.overlook.it George Lilanga nasce nel 1934, nel villaggio di Kikwetu nel distretto Masasi della regione Mtwara, nel sud della Tanzania da genitori Makonde, un gruppo etnico originario del Mozambico. Durante l’adolescenza la famiglia si trasferì a Lutamba nei cui dintorni George, accompagnato dal padre, come ogni giovane Makonde, in un luogo isolato della foresta, venne iniziato alla maturità nella cerimonia detta jandoni.
The most interesting finding is made by Jean Pigozi. He claims that George Lilanga was born both in Kikwetu and Masasi (http://www.caacart.com/pigozzi-artist.php?i=Lilanga-George&bio=en&m=58 and http://www.lilanga.com/pages/1/index.htm).
There are also various books claiming that Lilanga worked as guard and sold sculptures in Lutamba refugee camp. Sarenco´s book will serve as example: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com. But according to the UN list of refugee camps and Tanzanian Ministry of Home affairs there exists no such refugee camp Lutamba. We find only Rutamba refugee camp. See here: http://www.moha.go.tz
George Lilanga fabricated his own biography. Almost nothing is true in his CV. He was a Mozambican refugee whose wife and daughter still live in Mozambique.
While anyone can say anything about Lilanga´s paintings, the geography can´t be faked as art. Lutamba is not modern Atlantis. Lilanga just lied about his life.
Follow the interesting debate about the non-existent city Lutamba on Wikipedia´s discussion.
PS: If you find Kikwetu in Masasi district and Lutamba city in south Tanzania on a map, I send you a 60x60 cm painting by Rubuni for free!
Date 28 March 2011