Agnes Mwidadi Mpata
Agnes Mpata was born 1968 in Dar es Salaam. She lived with her mother, but also her uncle Tingatinga took good care of her. "But he died when I was still a small child." At the age of 11 she went to Nairobi,Kenya, to live with her uncle
Mpata. Simon Mpata was also a Tingatinga painter and financed Agnes'
school fees by selling his paintings. Although she passed the exam
for Highschool she was not able to start school since her uncle had died
and Agnes had to stay with her aunt, who could pay for a training as
secretary. "My aunt was also a painter, probably the first
woman who painted in Tingatinga style. And I helped her in technical
things like putting the backgrounds or painting the many leaves of a
tree or framing her paintings. She didn't want me to help because
she didn't want to keep me from learning. But I passed my secretary
exam and worked for two years in this job, before I returned to
Tanzania." While waiting for a job at a bank she started to
work for the Tingatinga Cooperative, first as a secretary, but very
soon also as a painter.
"Some customers were very
astonished to see a young woman paint and some bought my works. One
of them was Christine Hatz, who took some small paintings back home
to Switzerland. One year later she invited me and Mohammed Saidi to
exhibit in Switzerland. I quitted my secretary career and wanted to
become a painter." Since then Agnes Mpata got more and more
reputation as a painter und was invited to show her artwork in
Switzerland, Austria, South Africa and China. She can paint almost
every plan, but she likes especially to paint fruit and Maasai in a
Since she is such a careful and accurate artist she was
choosen to paint the walls of the Oncologic station Of Muhimbili
Children Hospital in Dar es Salaam together with her young
colleagues Maulana Saidi and Shaha Abass.
Agnes is married and has three sons.
She loves to tell stories to children and started to collect and
write down traditional Tanzanian tales. She is author of the picture
"How the Animals Got their Colours",
together with illustrator Issa Thabit.