Society & Culture & Entertainment Visual Arts

,,Tinga Tinga" - The Great Error

It is not very often that a new trend in art gets the name of only one person. So this is a special tribute to Eduardo Saidi Tingatinga who was the founder of the East African Tingatinga style in the early 1970s in Dar es Salaam. In the next decades till today paintings in the typical colourful style called,,Tingatinga Art" became well known through exhibitions and books world-wide. In contrast to this the term "Tinga Tinga" was not an East African brand at any time. The contrary assertion is wrong. The name "Tinga Tinga" never has played a role also in the international art-scene. No serious art expert and no Tingatinga artist who knows his roots use this. The only correct name is the term Tingatinga (for art, paintings etc.).

Currently regarding visual arts only the word combination "Tinga Tinga Tales" is a registered trademark in some countries and belongs to the company Tiger Aspect Production from UK. The background of this is of interest. Some just stupid and greedy people of the Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society (TACS) in Dar es Salaam/Tanzania sold to this company the usufruct of the words "Tinga Tinga". That therefore is remarkable because the TACS neither was and is the owner of the right of this term and also only a few Tingatinga artists are represented by the TACS. But exactly this organization, that arranged a bad contract without consultation of experts, now spreads knowingly wrong information about the term "Tinga Tinga" and tells the fairytale of the "sale of Tanzanian cultural heritage". Finally, the TACS claimed that "Tinga Tinga is part of national identity, a national asset, a symbol for Tanzania as a national flag". This is complete garbage.

What is the truth? No East African artist will get any problems to use the correct and long time introduced term "Tingatinga" for his art style, for paintings, for books etc. No artist should use "Tinga Tinga". It harms himself and creates confusion. The TACS finally should stop to require and to use the term "Tinga Tinga" for itself. No artist should hope that the running TV series "Tinga Tinga Tales" causes positive for the Tingatinga art. This TV production and the entire merchandising around happens on a market, on which African art-styles and artists don't have anything to win. It is nonsense to suggest African artists can find "honey and money" in the childish "Disney World" which is made believe us by unscrupulous businessmen. But it would not be surprising, if in one or two years the whole hype about "Tinga Tinga Tales" is over.

PS: The very last information is that the TACS now will feed expensive lawyers with the money of their members among other things to register the "Tinga Tinga" trademark (!). They didn't understand that it is too late for it and they will lose. But the damage for the Tingatinga Art will be big.

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