The Universal Language

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About The Universal Language

This image of one of the oldest couples from an Indigenous Mbuti (Pygmy) Village was captured by Lucianna, a former Tchukudu kid originally from Idjwi Island. 

The image is spectacular and I knew instantly I would make a painting built from its structure.  What it shows so deeply is love: the universal language. The answer to all the world's problems.  I wanted to honour the power of love, lasting love, the kind of love that only needs to exist in order to feel whole and at peace.  

The flowers are native to Idjwi Island. The foliage is so lush and tropical I wanted the viewer to feel the utopia that this sacred place represents. It is otherworldly, a place we can see and feel if we stand still and notice.

  • Mixed Media
  • 72”x40"
  • Source image captured by Lucianna

About 'The Future of the Past' series

I met the Mbuti (Pygmy) people of Idjwi Island five years ago. I heard from Kizungu, Director of Operations at World’s Collide and born on Idjwi Island, how badly the Mbuti (Pygmy) community was suffering from lack of food, poor housing conditions, no means to send their children to school, and no medical help. When I met them they spoke about these things but they also told me how the surrounding communities treated them like animals. They were clearly frustrated and hurt. Cultural myths about “others” are deeply rooted in most societies. What I felt from the Mbuti (Pygmy) people is that they just wanted to be treated the same as everyone else.

Kizungu, members of adjacent World’s Collide projects, and I began helping by providing garden hoes so they could grow food more efficiently. Then a year later we began helping them by providing a stipend of basic food needs for their village. The children were also invited to join the temporary school being built on the island.

Due to these interactions, the larger community has now accepted this marginalized group of people into the fold of the larger community. They are learning beside one another. They are growing food and working to build the permanent school together. Recently when the Chief's son died, the leaders from the surrounding Bantu community travelled to the Chief’s village to pay their respects… something that had never been done before.  

Since the first day I shook hands and hugged this group of people I wanted to do more for them. The most basic tool I have is to paint those I want to help. So, I began painting from images taken by Lucianna (former Tchukudu child) late in 2020. The paintings slowly evolved into paintings of worship.  I am honouring this indigenous group of people the best way I know how. I bow down to their connection to the earth… one that most of us have lost complete attachment to. They live simple lives and when they have food, shelter and hope for a brighter future they live in complete joy. They are creative; from their pottery to their song and dance, they have a spirit that is unlike anything I have witnessed or experienced before. My longing is deep to be with them again.  

We should be ashamed of ourselves for letting a culture so rich in history and knowledge be left to suffer from a consumption obsessed world, that has ripped the forests down; the place where they originally lived and flourished.