David Mashapure: Nyaminyami River Spirit Stone sculptor:
Born on the 3rd of March 1958, David Mashapure is the man who created and sculptured the Nyaminyami Zambezi River Spirit, which is a symbol of tourism in Kariba to this day.
This creation is set neatly on a plinth at Kariba Dam. The Nyaminyami Sculpture, also known as the Zambezi River Spirit is one of the most prominent spirit mediums of the BaTonga people, believed to protect and give them sustenance during difficult times. The River Spirit, which is portrayed as male and supposedly has the body of a snake and the head of a fish, is seen as the spirit of the Zambezi Valley and the Zambezi River before the creation of the Kariba Dam.
Driving along the Magunje-Binga route, one cannot miss a road sign with directions to David Mashapure’s homestead where his Broken Rock Arts base is located. It is at this base where he made and created many sculptures among them the famous Nyaminyami Zambezi River Spirit which stands majestically at Kariba dam. Mashapure’s medium of choice is serpentine and spring stone rock to create his art which he collects from Zvishavane, Mutare, Kwekwe and Guruve. As you arrive at his home, you are greeted by a neat and artistic paved road with sculptures lining the road. Among the sculptures is one titled Protected Family which he says is a symbol of faith. Besides being a sculptor David is a farmer, a tombstone designer and an elder with the Zimbabwe Assemblies of God (Zaoga) Forward in Faith church.
When one talks of sculptors in Zimbabwe the names of Dominic Benhura, Nicholas Mukomberanwa and others come to mind. But the country has produced one of its own in the mould of David Mashapure who lives in Magunje in Mashonaland West Province. David who makes his living from art, was inspired by the late Bernard Matemera who was a sculptor based in Guruve during the liberation struggle. Bernard taught him how to carve a stone. He was known as an artist with passion and an eye for detail. Bernard Matemera, however passed away in the early 90’s but Mashapure is happy to take on the mantle and carry on his legacy.
David a retired soldier, is a unique artist who created and sold the Nyaminyami Zambezi River Spirit to Kariba Publicity Association in 1999, who then erected it at Kariba Dam. He was a soldier then based in Guruve who had a passion to express himself through art. Mashapure stayed in Magunje as an army personnel, based at 2.3 Infantry Battalion at Magunje Barracks from 1988 to 1997 when he retired.
He started seriously sculpting in 1980 soon after his return from the war. He said that he derives most of his inspiration from the Shona culture. He is also credited for creating an elephant symbolising the totem of Chief Dendera of Hurungwe and also the cock/rooster (jongwe) symbol at Zanu PF. The artwork was presented and given to the late President Robert Mugabe as a gift in 1981 when he first visited Magunje. The gifts were presented to him by Hurungwe District Council. David marketed and sold his art in Kariba from 1997 to 2005 where he met a lot of clients. This was the period he was approached by the Kariba Publicity Association to create the Nyaminyami Zambezi River sculpture.
Most of his artwork has been sold in South Africa and European countries, among them the Netherlands, United States and Canada.
“I love this art so much, but unfortunately none of my five children are interested. They have all taken different professions and are all doing well in their careers”. David is a hardworking man who used the proceeds from these sculptures to send all his children to school something he is extremely proud of.
Credit: NewsDay Online and various online sources.
Photo credits: David Mashapure’s Facebook page.