Thu, 21 Oct 2021

LUSAKA, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- For many young people in Mtendere Township of Lusaka, Zambia's capital, Manja Arts center serves as a recreational space as well as a springboard for art-based businesses.

Aside from being an established selling point for artworks, Manja Arts center also provides free training in handicraft making and painting to youths interested in making art their mainstay.

And as a way of encouraging the younger children to stay out of trouble, the center also offers free art lessons to meet their recreational needs.

"We run art classes for children during non-school days and after school hours. Children come through to paint and play traditional musical instruments. The idea is to ensure that they are not pushed into illicit activities," explained Kelvin Mwanza, Manja Arts center founder.

The 35-year-old artist further revealed Manja Arts center provides space for young artists to display and sell their works. This is to help young entrepreneurs find their feet in the arts and crafts business.

According to Mwanza, he was encouraged to come up with the Manja Arts center three years ago after a significant number of youths demonstrated an interest in artworks.

"A lot of young people used to come and watch me work on paintings or some handcrafts. Despite the interest, many of them could not afford to enroll at established art institutions. That prompted me to come up with Manja Arts center," he said.

Mwanza added that since its establishment in 2018, Manja Arts has trained and mentored over 150 young people in Mtendere Township and surrounding areas.

Christabel Tembo, a youth that has benefited from Manja Arts skills training programs said the foundation has provided her and other youths with income-generating skills.

"In the three months that I have been at Manja Art, I am able to make earrings, bracelets and some home ornaments. I intend to learn how to make other handicrafts so as to increase my earnings," said the 21-year-old Tembo.

Another youth John Jere who is undertaking painting lessons with Manja Arts said making and selling artistic pieces will enable him to be financially independent.

"There are a lot of self-employment opportunities in arts and crafts because the arts industry itself has many components. One can, for instance, choose to work on paintings or concentrate on making traditional handicrafts," asserted the 21-year-old Jere.

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