Profile: Spotlight on renowned Tanzanian artist Haji Chilonga


Born in a family of blacksmiths on the paternal side and potters on the maternal side, you could say Haji has been modeled into the arts - a skill he so espouse with passion. In school, the 47 year old would become the de facto painter of artworks.

From 1992, Haji took to painting seriously, he learned the craft from other accomplished artists and in 1995, he would hold a first Solo exhibition at Bamayu Gallery in Tanzania. Besides painting, this approachable artist doubles as skilled sculptor. Haji has had over a dozen exhibitions both in his home country and abroad. He has exhibited in Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, USA and Canada. His works are loved for how they engage people and relate to their daily happenings. It is distinctive, however, it has been adopted by Thobias Minzi a young protégé of Haji. As an artist, he has also adopted and trained two more artist; Florian Ludovick Kaija and Aly Kitog- artists who in their own capacity have become a force to reckon in the Tanzanian Art scene.

To perfect his skills in the arts, Haji has attended a number of art residences twice at Salzburg International Summer Academy, Austria in 2007 and in 2014.

The former sign-writer of the 80s, now boasts of significant achievements in the arts. Part of his collection currently has a permanent residence in Tanzania’s State House and also the homes of former presidents; Jakaya Kikwete and Benjamin Mkapa.

Haji has also two awards to his name:  the third winner of the art Competition a hundred and fifty years of Italian unification 2011 by the Italian Embassy Tanzania, and he was among the Top ten (Art Against AIDS) MACMILLAN in South Africa 2002.      

Haji is among 14 Tanzanian artists currently exhibiting in Nairobi at Tanzania Contemporary Art Expo 2017.


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