Francis Chileshe

Francis Chileshe

The Leya extended family

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Francis has worked as a sculptor for almost 30 years. Born in Mukuni village he joined his family to become an artist in wood, preferring  Zebra wood because of its different patterns. He sells his work at Mukuni Village curio market. This trade has enabled him to build a house for his family and take care of his mother as well as his wife and two children.  “Zebra wood is not common and I now have a challenge getting the wood because it is difficult to find in my village. I now have to walk a long distance just to find the wood.” He expects to benefit from this project because he will receive a large sum of money at once for him to make a budget for his family and to boosts his business. He very honored that his work has been erected at civic Centre. “I selected the theme called the history of the Mukuni people because I wanted my mother’s tribe not to be left out and it being the headquarters of many artists.” The sculpture depicts many people who make up a family. Towards the end of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth century, some Bantu people migrated south from their original homeland in southern Congo Basin. According to native tradition,the earliest of these tribes was the Leya. The word Leya is said to mean to keep out of trouble and the explanation is given that Sichichele Mukuni lead a number of his followers and settled in the country on both banks of the river above and below the Victoria Falls.Mukuni Village was the largest village in the area before Livingstone arrived in the region. Its Baleya inhabitants, originally from the Rozwi culture in Zimbabwe were conquered by Chief Mukuni who came from Congo in the 18th century.“I have never encountered such great opportunity since I got into this trade, I am the happiest person for my work to be erected at a Civic Centre”




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