A Statue of President Robert Mugabe Robert Mugabe which the veteran leader unveiled last week was roundly scorned on social media at the weekend, prompting its creator to defend the 3.8-metre piece.
Mugabe and wife Grace unveiled the sculpture at State House in Harare last week and expressed his gratitude to award-winning local artist Dominic Benhura who was commissioned by the president’s office.
“To see oneself reproduced this way, it’s something that should be more appreciated than just by saying ‘thank you’,” enthused the veteran leader.
“I will say in an African way and in our own way, personally, thank you in a deeper way because it has gone deep in my heart.”
But Zimbabweans ridiculed the statue on social media.
Said Twitter user @TakawiraMuna: “Benhura took #Tajamuka to the door steps of State House” @TakawiraMuna.
“Mugabe has been given a middle finger; this is a mockery of Africa’s oldest Statesman,” @Sibok added while @nomie said; “When you know the sculpture ugly, so you ask your wife to dress uglier, just to confuse the haters.”
Others suggested that Benhura had committed “career suicide”. “The poor chap is probably at Chikurubi prison by now,” another wrote.
The sculptor, who said it took him six months to produce the statue, defended his work.
“I think most people do not understand my art and they do not understand the difference in art styles,” Benhura told a government-owned daily.
“That sculpture was never meant to look exactly as the President’s image. I do not do exact figures. Some artists do exact figures, but I do something that makes my work different.”
He continued: “If a number of artistes are commissioned to do a piece on a certain subject, there is need for a difference.
“If all the pieces have striking resemblance of the subject, they will look the same and nothing will differentiate the artists. This is the style I have mastered.
“My collectors can identify my pieces when they see them anywhere in the world because I chose to be different and that is my signature.”