I think I fell in love yesterday! Truly. I met the renowned national treasure of Africa: the artist Malangatana.
His works are displayed in gallaries throughout the world, including the Smithsonian.
We sat in his studio and talked for over an hour. His English was perfect, which was a good thing because my Portuguese is limited, at best. (I do know "obrigada" means "thank you" but I think that would have limited our conversation immensely.)
He elucidated his artistic philosophies and regaled me with stories of his humble roots. He said he observes the world through his soul and tries to translate that as images on his canvases. I said how struck I was by the eyes in his paintings (and thought that this must clearly be intentional because one's eyes are a window into one's soul.) He said he doesn't pay particular attention to that specific detail, but appreciated the compliment just the same.
His works have been lauded for their exploration of the hardships of human life and the heroism in overcoming those hardships. He is such a proud and important cultural figure in Africa and the world.. His works are the reflection of a culture that has fought for independence and is now fighting for survival.
He thanked me for coming to Mozambique and asked about the projects I was working on - particularly my work with the vulnerable children in Maputo and the Gaza province. He was so grateful. Though the problems are enormous and seemingly insurmountable, he was convinced that "together we will melt stones." We will embrace the impossible together and see miracles happen. He was so moving. It was really incredible.
He was also a shameless flirt, quick-witted, and so wise. I was completely charmed by him.
As I was leaving he asked if I had left some of my spirit inside the studio for him to keep. I smiled at the generous flattery and what I didn't tell him was that I absconded with a bunch of his spirit the moment we met.