In Matobo, a rural Zimbabwean village, women traditionally decorate their huts following each harvest. They use charcoal, soil, and ash to paint the exterior with designs like zigzags, flowers, and contrasting chevron. When the rains come and these patterns are washed away, the women start painting their homes again—continuing the cycle of art and culture.
However, this tradition may soon fade away as more rural communities transition to brick homes. To preserve this rich tradition, the Amagugu International Heritage Centre launched the My Beautiful Home Competition in 2014 in order to encourage the rural women of Matobo to celebrate their creativity through decorating their home. Although the inaugural competition was small, it has since swelled to nearly 300 annual entrants. Competition organizers John Knight, Andre van Rooyen, Cliford Zulu, Veronique Attala, Violette KeeTui, and Butho Nyathi travelled through Matobo selecting finalists. Matobo’s response and enthusiasm has been so impressive that new categories including the Photographer’s Choice award and best interior have recently been introduced.
As the women have been lauded for their innovative use of limited resources, the tradition has become a greater source of pride for the communities. Amagugu International Heritage Centre hopes to expand the competition throughout Zimbabwe so that local art becomes a tourist attraction and a source of income for rural communities like Matobo.