I met the young artist, Alix, while walking through the main Zomba Market and really liked his painting of elephants eating from a baobab tree. I purchased it and then he showed me several more.
What I really wanted, though, was a painting with a single giraffe. He said he would make one for me and call me in a few days when it was finished. So, today was the day, and I went to town to meet him and see my Special Giraffe! Here is Alix proudly showing me his work. Of course I bought it — but it is not like buying “art” in the United States. Acquiring these exquisite “one-of-a-kind” creations are less expensive than a brief excursion to CVS on a Saturday.
Alix loves to paint and he also does carvings of animals and traditional masks. He wants to go to Art School in Lilongwe (the capital of Malawi) but his chances are slim because of limited (or more realistically, nonexistent) finances. As an educator, these situations cause me the most sadness. People here have so much talent and brilliance and integrity , but they remain untapped due to the socio-economic-political milieu.
Again, I must say that meeting the people here and shaking their hands and looking them in the eyes, are eons away from what one can surmise from reading a book with pictures or watching a documentary film. Virtual and mediated experience are surely experiences, but they are not human experiences. Human experiences only happen in real time and place and face-t0-face.