I first met Fungai at a local arts festival. His stand contained a number of striking sculptures in polished black springstone, brown streaked serpentine and speckled fruitstone shaped into the outline of strong African features and figures. I gazed at them for some time, admiring the way the light reflected off each one, before asking ‘who is the artist?’ ‘I’m the artist’ came a voice in English and a well-built young guy with an infectious smile strode forward. In the conversation that followed I was impressed by Fungai’s passion for his art and the explanations he gave for each individual sculpture.
We met again two weeks later when Fungai demonstrated his art with the tools of his trade, chipping, filing and polishing crude rock into the semblance of two embracing friends. During this time he told me a little of his story. Fungai grew up supported by his father, was a refugee as a child and then found himself orphaned in his teenage years. Alone and homeless he was assisted by Mozambican pastors and with his father’s tools started to forge a future for himself. His art improved with experience and, in recognition of its quality, Fungai was invited to join in expositions in Maputo, Norway and the United States. However, he has not kept his burgeoning success to himself as some would. Instead he trains other orphans in his art, to help them appreciate the beauty of sculpture and forge a future for themselves.
We have since met again, during which time I had the privilege of conducting an interview with Fungai. The full interview can be found here, and is the first post in the ‘Voices of Mozambique’ section of my website, which in future weeks will continue to convey further testimonies of some of the remarkable individuals I have met already during my short time in Beira.
Shona sculptors believe that the will of the rock guides the sculptor’s hands to create the final finished image. Fungai has taken his life, seen its intrinsic value and through determination and faith has created a thing of beauty out of seemingly impermeable adversity. His hands have been guided by another rock, the one who is ‘our rock and our salvation’ (Psalm 62). Please pray for Fungai as he shapes his art and God shapes his life.