Court orders Gukurahundi exhibition to be pulled down

The Supreme Court of Zimbabwe has ordered Bulawayo based visual artist, Owen Maseko, to pull down his controversial exhibition depicting the 1980s Matabeleland Gukurahundi massacres.

Owen Maseko pictured in front of one of his controversial paintings.
Owen Maseko pictured in front of one of his controversial paintings.

The exhibition only showcased for about 48 hours in March 2010 at the National Gallery in Bulawayo before it was shut down by police.

Resultantly, Maseko was arrested and charged with undermining the authority of, or insulting the president and causing offence to persons of a particular race or religion.

The then Acting Director of Bulawayo Art Gallery, was also arrested together with Maseko but was later freed. The case was subsequently referred to the Supreme Court in 2013.

Since 2010 the whole ground floor exhibition space at the gallery where the exhibition was put up was cordoned off as some of the images pictures and graffiti were painted directly on the walls.

The exhibition was the first of its kind in the country that depicted the massacre of over 20 000 civilians including pregnant women and children in Matabeleland and Midlands by the Fifth Brigade.

In an interview with Radio Dialogue, Maseko confirmed that he had received communication from the government authorities to take down his controversial exhibition.

“The government has finally issued an order to take the exhibition away from the gallery. We had a few challenges because the censorship board had written a contradictory letter to what they originally said about the banning of the exhibition.

“So it seems the exhibition was only banned to be exhibited at the gallery, not what their letter says that cannot be exhibited anywhere else in the country after I have taken it out of the gallery,’ said Maseko.

He added that he was allowed to take the exhibition to a private space or gallery.

The exhibition is expected to be removed today (Thursday).

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Post published in: Human Rights

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