in the Ndanda village, Masai District, of Yao tribe parents. Damian
Msagula started his Primary Education in Lindi.
father had six children, and one day, he told Msagula that it
was so difficult to provide for the large family, that he had
to leave and find his own way of living.
did not do this because he disliked me. He did it because he thought
of me as an obedient, and disciplined child, and he thought these
qualities would stand me in good stead in the stormy world outside
my home. He was right.
Msagula then spent some time as a musician, organising a succession
of bands, the Uhuru Jazz Band, The Black Hammer Boxing Band, and
was given an award by the Bishop , and our bands became quite
famous in Mtwara, and Lindi. I was then only fifteen years old."
Msagula has led a very varied life. Very few Tanzanians can claim
to have founded two villages like he did, one at Kwaa Msisi at
Korogwe in the mid sixties, and one Kwa Raza, near Mlandizi. As
has happened many times in his life, he got into arguments with
the local administration, and because he was averse to conflict,
he left. Both villages still exist today.
1972 Msagula was selling fruits and vegetables from the Tanga
region at Morogoro Stores and came in contact with the Tingatinga
artists. The next year, Damian Msagula joined them and started
painting. A couple of years later, he left the group to work on
his own. In 1974 he trained PETER
Martin whom he had brought with him from Tanga. Peter
will later move to the Village Museum.
had no nuclear family of his own, and had almost no contact with
his extended family. He never married and didn't have any children.
inside his own family started even before independence. Damian
had an uncle who was a member of the colonial police force. When
TANU (political party pro-independence) was recruiting and Msagula
joined, his uncle never forgave him. If Im seen together
with you, Ill probably lose my job, he said.
independence, Msagula was active in the "Ujamaa" policy
of return to the village, self-reliance and solidarity.
Msagula was fortunate enough to make long lasting friendships
with several people who are deeply involved in the art world of
Dar es Salaam, especially Rifaat Pateev, the Director of the Russian
Tanzanian Cultural Centre. Rifaat was first attracted by the quality,
and originality of Msagulas art. He had this to say:Among
all the Tanzanian artists whose work I have seen, Damian stands
out because of his individuality." Rifaat has also single
handedly borne the burden of caring for Damian since his stroke
in November 2003.
colours in Damian Msagula's paintings are always in perfect harmony.
This was so important for him that at one time, he even produced
his own colours from roots and plants.
the very naive renderings of the beggining, Msagula has
developed a truly unique style centered on the village as the
root of african culture and the respect of the ancestors and their
Damian Msagula is a central figure in Tanzania's art scene.
"Tinga Tinga, the popular paintings fom Tanzania", Y.
Goscinny, "Art in Tanzania 2000", Y. Goscinny and "Damian
Struck Down", Christopher Elkington in The Mirror