It all started during a few hikes by Veronique Attala in the beautiful balancing granite rocks of the Matopos, South of Bulawayo, in Zimbabwe. Whilst walking off the main paths and adventuring into the bush she encountered a number of traditional homesteads. Some of these were seasonal and thus abandoned others were filled with the laughter of children.
On one house, she noticed a few welcoming words with a painted flower, on another a more elaborate design representing the surrounding hills and on others there were more flowers or geometrical designs.
It was captivating, the love and pride the villagers were showed in their homes by representing mother Nature on their mud walls, declaring their pride and talents despite extreme poverty. The … were made with all shades of ochre clay, white ash and black charcoal and would would fade away slowly during the rainy season, like sand castles. The following year, in the dry season, new designs would be created. With very little means and a great amount of work, some had the ability to create the most enviable and beautiful homes.
There was a strong feeling of being part of the same human soul, through the universal language of art and the connection with the past through their ancient traditions.
Veronique was inspired and this sparked the idea of a competition to encourage more of this fading tradition to retain the culture of the area. Together with the support of two others who were keen on the concept, Pathisa Nyathi and John Knight; the first competition was launched in 2014.
In 2014 there were 30 entrants and in 2021 it is anticipated that there will be 1000, a testament to the enthusiastic response to this incentive to restore their traditions and culture in the 21st Century.
The competition takes place in 7 Wards within the Matobo, a UNESCO world heritage site which lies 35km from Bulawayo in the province of Matabeleland South an area of stunning natural beauty with gigantic balancing granite rock formations formed over millennia. The area is reknown for its spiritual connections.
The My Beautiful Home Project is an initiative of the non-profit organisation Ekaya Gaia with the support of non-profit trusts : National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo and Amagugu Cultural and Heritage Center.