Indigenised Christian art of Zambian painter Emmanuel Nsama
By Andrew Mulenga
In the 1960s a young Zambian artist named Emmanuel Nsama (1941 - 2011) was among the first and most consistent Zambians to depict biblical scenes in church murals, earning commissions mainly through Catholic Church sponsorship.
He was responsible for decorating the interiors of quite a number of churches on the Copperbelt Province of Zambia, where he lived, worked and taught art at college, however most, if not all have been painted over leaving very little trace of the artist’s work.
In 1970 nevertheless, the artist was commissioned to produce eight works on large wooden panels depicting bible scenes from the life of Jesus in the New Testament for a newly built chapel at Njase Girls Secondary School, in Choma, a town in the Southern Province of Zambia. This is shortly upon his return from a two year advanced art programme at Sheridan College in Canada from 1966 to 1968. Today, the 42-year-old murals remain a few of his most well preserved early works as well as some early, post-colonial samples of indigenized Christian art in Zambia. But being sheltered in the chapel at the girls school has not been the safest place and years of playful scraping along with vandalism lead to extensive damage in some of the works. The works are currently undergoing restoration by Zambian artist and scholar William Miko in the capital Lusaka, and shall be returned to Choma upon completion.
At the time of his death in 2011, Nsama left behind over 100 religious themed paintings at his home in Chimwemwe Township in Kitwe.
Gospel music in Zambia
By Prince F.M. Lamba
Music in general has been part of Zambia’s everyday life since time immemorial. As an integral part of Zambia’s cultural heritage, music has contributed to the establishment and shaping of the country’s overall national cultural identity. Like in other societies, music in Zambia also exists in different genres practiced and experienced in various forms and contexts. Zambian music genres include traditional, neo-traditional, popular, jazz, choral and gospel (religious) among others. This text provides an overview of gospel music in the country.
Religious music has been in existence in Zambia from as early as the 12th century when the first advanced Bantu settlers arrived in the country. Not only did the early settlers perform cultural practices, but they also practiced different traditional religions, which were regularly accompanied by music, dance and rituals. Until the coming of Western Christian settlers in the 19th century, traditional religious music remained the only form of worship music of the local ethnic peoples.
Generally, gospel music is used to worship and praise God. It was developed and promoted at the turn of 20th centuries from folk churches. Essentially it is the product of individual and collective spontaneous creativity. Modern gospel music can be seen to be a synthesis of African, Afro-American and western music, dance, poetry, drama and oral traditions. It echoes the hope of salvation and other Christian motifs.
Contemporary Zambian gospel music generally exits in three forms: acapella, instrumental, or a combination of both vocals and instruments. Instruments used in gospel music range from traditional to modern western instruments, and represent the four categories of music clarification, namely membranophones, chordophones, aerophones and idiophones.
In Zambia, contemporary gospel music has in the past decade significantly evolved from the stereotypical, conventional church hymns to more artistic compositions. The striking difference between conventional church hymns and new gospel compositions can be appreciated when considering issues of authorship and ownership (copyrights). It is now relatively easy to establish the composers of modern gospel music, unlike in cases of traditional church hymns, in which case most compositions are usually anonymous, thereby rendering the hymns as merely ‘belonging’ to the larger church community. To some extent, the recognition of artistic copyrights in gospel music has contributed to the acceptance and promotion of this genre as a creative product in the Zambian creative and arts industries.
[ "This is a song that talks to a soul that people laughs at that they cant do anything useful in their lives,a soul that has been sick for so long and wants to give up this song gives hope to such a one and it incourages to give thanks in all situations and also to assure you all that God loves you no matter what may come.Stay blessed as you watch.” ] by owner of Youtube channel.
Zambia’s declaration as a Christian country
The declaration of Zambia as a Christian country in 1991 by the second Republican President, Dr. Frederick Chiluba, has had a profound impact on the development and promotion of gospel music in the country. Not only did the Christian declaration serve as a plea for God to bless Zambia and protect it from anti-Christian entities, it also resulted in the inclusion of the declaration into the country’s Republican constitution itself, thereby fostering Christianity and Christian worship in the country.