And the changing times.
By Nyadzombe Nyampenza
No squeals of delight. No hysterical screams and giggles. This is not a typical playground. Two boys play at wheelbarrow in stone cold silence. Dominic Benhura’s style of carving bald faces has robbed them of facial of expression. It is their graceful physical form that carries an emotional sense of joy.
During the day the sculpture attracts no fanfare. It is mounted by the sidewalk, along Samora Machel Avenue. Pedestrians barely seem to notice as they go about their business. The general public does not instantly recognize Benhura’s signature style of depicting playful scenes. Internationally renowned Benhura is a leading figure of second generation Zimbabwean stone sculptors. His work captures balance and movement through a static and concrete medium. The artist derives inspiration from observation of his own children. His playful pieces convey the experience of a carefree childhood filled with happiness and fun.
At night the town is empty and artificial light floods the side walk. A dramatic change comes over the sculpture. As if a spiteful witch cast a spell over the children and stopped time. The children look as if they stayed out long past playtime. The aura of innocence is gone. They look like sinister overgrown babies. Their suspended gestures become eerie and haunted. It speaks to apathy, negligence, and gross irresponsibility.
Daybreak finds the little boys at the playground early. Like the first day of school holidays. With protective face masks people pass by on their way to work. Others trudge back from a late shift. Once more, they are reminded of simpler times, and the blissful ignorance of childhood