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Article: The Life of Edward Saidi Tingatinga

Tinga Tinga art

The Life of Edward Saidi Tingatinga

Edward Saidi Tingatinga was a Tanzanian painter known for his unique and colourful style. His legacy lives on through the Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society, which supports and promotes the work of Tanzanian artists.

Tingatinga's life was marked by struggle and hardship. Born in the 1930s in a small village in southern Tanzania, he was the youngest of five children. His parents were subsistence farmers and Tingatinga had little formal education. Despite this, he showed a remarkable talent for drawing and painting from an early age. He would use charcoal and other materials to create his artwork but it wasn't until he moved to Dar es Salaam that he discovered his true calling as a painter.

In the 1960s, Tingatinga began to create his signature style of art. He used bright, bold colours and simple, geometric shapes to depict scenes from Tanzanian life, such as animals, landscapes and village scenes. His paintings were highly sought after by tourists and collectors and he soon became a household name in Tanzania.

Handcrafted painting

Despite the success of his art form today, Tingatinga faced many challenges throughout his life. He struggled to make ends meet and his health was poor. He also faced criticism from some members of the Tanzanian artistic community, who viewed his work as simplistic and lacking in cultural depth.

Regardless of these challenges, Tingatinga remained dedicated to his craft and continued to create art that spoke to the spirit of Tanzania. He was known for his generosity and his commitment to his community. He would often paint murals in local schools and community centers, using his art as a means of giving back to those around him.

Tingatinga died in 1972, at the age of 39. His death was a great loss to the Tanzanian artistic community but his legacy lives on through the Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society. The society continues to promote Tingatinga's unique style of art and to support other Tanzanian artists. 

Funnily, whilst making a piece for a customer, Tingatinga painted a picture of a giraffe but forgot to give it a tail. When a customer pointed out the mistake, Tingatinga simply replied, "That's because it's a Maasai giraffe. They have short tails!"

Edward Saidi Tingatinga's life was marked by creativity, dedication and a deep commitment to his community. His unique style of art has had a lasting impact on Tanzanian culture and continues to inspire people around the world. Despite the challenges he faced, Tingatinga remained true to his vision and created a legacy that will be remembered for generations to come.

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