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Gwenda Fay Chongwe

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Gwenda Fay Chongwe is the founder of Zintu, a craft store in Zambia that preserved and sold items of African cultural heritage.

Personal Life[edit | edit source]

Gwenda Fay Chongwe, née Eaton, is a native of Australia, but moved to Zambia in 1969 with her husband Roger Chongwe, a Zambian lawyer, businessman, and politician. Her husband was shot and wounded in 1997 by police officers during a political rally.[1]

Zintu[edit | edit source]

Zintu means "things" in the Tonga and Chitowni languages. She started Zintu in 1979 with a partner, Diana Flynn, raising capital from "tiny loans" from their husbands.[2]

Zintu specialised in objects of cultural significance from the 72 different Zambian tribal groups. Zintu was particularly known for curating woven baskets, including the tightly woven, coiled and plaited Makenge baskets, fashioned from fibers from the Mopani tree; traditional Lunga winnowing baskets, and the highly prized striped baskets from the Mbunda people of the Western Province. They also curated pots, cooking utensils, jewelry, textiles and masks from remote areas in Zambia.

Community Service[edit | edit source]

Gwenda Chongwe collaborated with a number of crafts projects - many run by international relief agencies - that train ''school leavers'' and women, including a Y.W.C.A. weaving project and ISIS, a refugee womens' training program. She established the Zintu Foundation Art and Craft Collection, a nonprofit organization, in the hope of one day making it into a museum. Through her travels, Mrs. Chongwe has acquired approximately 250 pieces, including sets of Tumbuka and Bemba ceremonial pots, Tonga funeral drums and other rare items, which she intended to form the core of the collection.

She worked with the National Conservation Committee, a branch of the Government, on the problem of material resources. In his book The Nature of Zambia: A Guide to Conservation and Development, Mark Carwardine acknowledges both Gwenda and Diana for their help in his efforts to write the book, though he doesn't go into specific detail.[3]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "FAMOUS ZAMBIANS: ROGER CHONGWE". www.geocities.ws. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  2. Times, PATRICIA LEIGH BROWN; PATRICIA LEIGH BROWN writes on design for The Home Section of The New York (1990-06-10). "SHOPPER'S WORLD; Zambian Culture In a Crafts Shop". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  3. Carwardine, Mark (1988). The Nature of Zambia: A Guide to Conservation and Development. IUCN. ISBN 9782880324032.

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