The Hidden Story of Eduardo Saidi Tinga Tinga....

Eduardo Said Tinga Tinga (his full name: Eduardo Saidi Tinga Tinga Namoli Ngaunje, in English version Edward Saidi Tingatinga) gave the name to the Tinga Tinga art movement which started in Tanzania in 1960-ties. But Eduardo Tinga Tinga himself was born in northern Mozambique. It was first in the age of 15 when he immigrated to Tanzania.

His father comes from the Ndonde tribe which is a very small tribe. The tribe consists of only 50.000 members. However, since they traded with Arabs in 18th and 19th century, they inhabited large tracts of the land both in Tanzania and northern Mozambique.

In Tanzania, the Ndonde people including the Tinga Tinga family settled in few villages, among them a village called Mtawatawa, now Ngapa. It was around 1920 when the first member of the Tinga Tinga crossed the border to Tanzania. It was the grandfather of Eduardo Tinga Tinga. The Tinga Tinga family is living in Ngapa until today.

There are many huts in Ngapa which are decorated with mural art. They resemble the modern Tinga Tinga paintings. Therefore it seems that today’s Tinga Tinga paintings originate from the Ndonde mural art. In fact, the mural art was already documented in the 19th century.

It was the German ethnographer Karl Weule who wrote in his diary that the Yao chief Akundonde had his hut decorated with mural paintings. Akundonde lived with the Ndonde people in the Ngapa area around 1850.

The modern Tinga Tinga art is a continuation of the Ndonde mural art tradition. The artist Eduardo Tinga Tinga himself was a mural painter. It is well known that he decorated houses on the Kigamboni peninsula near Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. It was a common practice back in the Ndonde villages.

But what made Eduardo Tinga Tinga different from other Ndonde traditional mural painters was his close relationship to the Makua tribe and his business spirit. His mother came from a Makua chief family and her relatives worked for expats at a various embassies and institutions in Dar es Salaam.

Eduardo got an idea to paint the motives on Masonite sheets in hope to sell the paintings to the expat community. He himself was working as a gardener for an English officer George Pollack. And his paintings became very popular. So popular that he even employed his relatives to cut the Masonite sheets, paint the background and sell the finished paintings.

He was married to Agatha Mataka. She came from Makonde tribe which is closely related to the Ndonde tribe. He met her in Tanga when she was already pregnant. He adopted the child, Daudi. But he had to wait 4 years to get his own child, Martina. Both children became painters.

It is evident that Tinga Tinga tried to protect his art during his life. His best friend was Januari Linda, a Makonde with whom he displayed paintings on the first ever recorded exhibition. It was organized by Scandinavians, Jesper Kirknaes one of them. Other close friend was Adeus Matambwe, also Makonde.

Unless Tinga Tinga wouldn’t be shot under strange circumstances by a police in 1972, the art would be attributed to Ndonde or Makonde tribe. But when he died, the Makua relatives started to claim their place within the Tinga Tinga movement. There were no relatives from his father’s tribe – Ndonde in Dar es Salaam, except Thabiti Tingatinga.

Thabiti was the only member of the Tinga Tinga family who stayed with Eduardo Tinga Tinga in Dar es Salaam. And he buried him in 1972. Eduardo was the first child of Saidi Tinga Tinga to pass away. The last one was Fatu Tingatinga who passed away in 2016.

The Ndonde Mural Art - the Origin of the Tinga Tinga paintings

There are villages in Africa where the mural art is living until today. These absolutly stunning wall paintings are found in southern Tanzania. Now even you have a chance to decorate your walls with the aboriginal art. The paintings below are painted with soils, ash and charcoal - deep in the African forests !

Buy a painting from this website and support the research about the aboriginal Tinga Tinga paintings!

The modern Tinga Tinga art has its origins in the decoration of hut walls. It is possible to still find such wall paintings in northern Mozambique and southern Tanzania, especially in the village of Ngapa, where Tinga Tinga family settled.

The paintings which are produced on the touristic spots in Tanzania are derived from the aboriginal mural paintings. Even Eduardo Tinga Tinga himself, the father of the modern Tinga Tinga movement, used to decorate the huts with the aboriginal paintings. But in the city, he used the enamel colors instead of soil.

Eduardo Tinga Tinga belonged to a small tribe called Ndonde. Interestingly, the tribe continues to paint on hut walls until today.

The artists apply colored soils, ash and charcoal to the walls of the huts. They paint objects seen in their surroundings, including airplanes and helicopters, the only attribute belonging to the the world "outside". Most of the paintings deal with the people and the wild animals. The popular leopard paintings seen in the "commercial" Tinga Tinga art were also found on the hut walls.

The Ngapa region is rich in different kinds of soils. The main types of soils are red, yellow and brown. There is also a black soil but since the charcoal is used instead, this type of soil isn't often utilized. The charcoal is sometimes substituted by the coal found in used batteries.

The white color is made from the ash. On isolated occasions, the use of plant pigments were also observed but still no research was done on the subject.

After observing the traditional wall paintings, Mr. Augusta ecouraged the aboriginal painters to apply the soils straight on the canvas. The soils are spread on the flat hut walls by hands.

But the canvases are much smaller so the brushes were introduced to the Ndonde community to achieve a better precision in the painting techniques.

In fact, the brushes started to generate details and patterns which could never be achieved by hands. The use of the brushes was also justified by the fact that a new component was added to the soils, coal and ash - an adhesive.

The adhesive's goal is to keep the material together when applied to the canvas. The adhesive is not essential for a painting made on a wall in a village so it is never used in wall paintings. But when used on canvas, it improves the durability of the paints.

This website is the first to presents the art works of the aboriginal Tinga Tinga painters. The mural art from Africa in general is very rich and has a long history. The first wall paintings were observed by the explorers like Karl Weule in 1906. The mural art was probably practiced for many hundreds of years but yet never exposed to the public.

Mr.Tinga Tinga continued to create art of his Ndonde community using modern materials and tools when he reached the city. But when he suddenly died in 1972, his art was widely copied by the Makua tribe where his mother comes from.

The aboriginal Tinga Tinga art lives its own life in isolated villages without any commercial incitaments. It was only the commercial Tinga Tinga art which was exposed for the last 40 years. The aboriginal Tinga Tinga art was hidden until today.

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