In the Zambian language Nyanja, Tenga means “to take” or “to carry”. During the recent Afro Ndi Luso residency hosted by Modzi Arts, Zambian artist Aaron Samuel Mulenga learned about the Tenga Tenga, the name given to the African porters who were enlisted in Southern Africa to carry the goods and equipment of British soldiers during the First World War. This formed the starting point for his new project inspired by an Afrocentric perspective of African history and ancestors. Tenga Tenga; Can I Help You Carry Your Load? is a performance/video work that centres around the Tenga Tenga’s experience which Aaron developed together with video artist Joseph Kasau from DR of Congo. Aaron performed the work in the town centre in Mbala, Zambia beside a statue dedicated to the history of the Tenga Tenga. This sit-specific performance allowed the artists to engage with local people about what this marginalised history means to them.
Aaron Samuel Mulenga is a multidisciplinary artists who was introduced to visual language through biblical imagery. He is now interested in ideas surrounding cultural representation and spirituality, be it Christianity or African spirituality. His work engages symbolism as a vehicle to explore concepts of power, representation and belonging. His work engages with the idea of culture and heritage, and in this most recent project, expands to integrate marginalised histories. He is currently a third year PhD student at the University of California Santa Cruz in the History of Art and Visual culture department.
Joseph Kasau is a filmmaker and videographer who aims to tell universally relatable stories with simple but powerful images and words.