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Arts & Lifestyle

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa presented with fake Benhura sculpture



FIRST LADY Auxillia Mnangagwa was recently presented with a fake Dominic Benhura sculpture at the popular Cookout Showcase at the University of Zimbabwe.


Tourism and Hospitality Industry minister Barbara Rwodzi, who was the guest, received the sculptures on behalf of Mnangagwa on 19 March 2024 at the University of Zimbabwe.

The poor imitation, done by an anonymous sculptor, depicts a mother and her child.

It was originally done by the world-renowned Zimbabwean sculptor Benhura, but this imitation–with the faces and arms–betrays the original work.

Benhura’s masterpieces are adored worldwide for his signature symmetry and style that does not reproduce his subjects in exact images.

He has pursued creative imagination art for many decades. When he does pieces of people and wildlife, Benhura creates unidentifiable forms, but does not refine them like other artists.

This is the style that has seen him touring many countries and exhibiting in some of the world’s largest galleries.


Contacted for comment, Benhura said it was unfair to gift the First Lady with counterfeit work.

“It’s a bad copy, even the finishing says it all,” Benhura said.

“It is a definite fake. Well, I feel it is wrong for whoever initiated that to give the mother of the nation a fake stone.”

Fake Benhura work has flooded the resort town of Victoria Falls as con artists mass produce some of his masterpieces to earn a quick buck.

For Benhura is takes months to produce one sculpture and, even then, he does not replicate his pieces but evolve with each sculpture and theme.

Informed art collectors who visit Victoria Falls are having to contact Benhura first before they buy fake stones.

Piracy in stone sculpture has become rampant with con artists eking out a living in copying art produced by world-renowned sculptors, the likes of Benhura and Lazarus Takawira.

Zimbabwe will host the first-ever UN Tourism Africa Gastronomy Showcase from 26 to 28 July 2024 in Victoria Falls.

It was through the efforts of the First Lady that Zimbabwe was given the opportunity to host it.

In addition to this, UN Tourism also availed scholarships to 100 students in the field of tourism.  Zimbabwe was given the opportunity to build a UN Tourism Academy for the Sadc region in Victoria Falls.

This is meant to enhance the tourism and culinary skills for students.

The Traditional Cookout programme is a concept which was introduced by Mrs Mnangagwa.

In 2023, the Cookout programme was elevated further to Sadc Regional Gastronomy competitions and the inaugural event was successfully held in Masvingo with eight countries participating: Zimbabwe, Botswana, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi and Nigeria.

Many countries including Spain, Italy, China and France use gastronomy as a major driver of their economies.

Ultimately, that is what Zimbabwe is aiming at, to be the gastronomy powerhouse in Africa.

According to UN Tourism (2023) statistics, tourism generated US$1.4 trillion in revenue globally whilst spending on food-related activities is estimated to account for 40% of global tourism expenditure.

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