Ronald Muchatuta

Scorched Earth


In the words of Fred Moten, we study our wounds as poetics of our lore, where the relation between joint and flesh is the pleated distance of a musical moment that is emphatically, palpably imperceptible and, therefore, exhausts description. The moment becomes a theory of the moment, of the feeling of a presence that is ungraspable in the way that it touches. You will know the moment by how it requires you to think of the relation between fantasy and nothingness: what is mistaken for silence is, all of a sudden, Tran substantial. (Eliott, 2022)

In resistance to such departure, we linger in the advent, in the brutal interplay of advent and enclosure. Land, especially for Africans is the basis of dignity that is rooted in ancestral land and the deep connection one has to their roots and community. Unsettlement is the displacement re-casted in the idea that to have land and to be African are interplay of two different ideas. Whereas negation is supposed to foster true emergence it is simply delay disguised as emergence. (Eliott, 2022)

In the resistance to such, the departure is in the ‘scorching’, the land is now scorched in order to bring about the growth and revitalization of its essence. Fire is the equalizer as it prepares the ground for the first rains before farming. The ‘scorching of the earth’ is the catalyst for a new beginning for agriculture and the sustainability of its resourcefulness.

I am interested in what happens when it is not ‘nature’ but ‘humankind’ that is the victim of this trauma as is so often the case on the Continent of Africa. Can we too emerge stronger as a ‘Phoenix rising from the ashes’ in a possible attempt to not only survive but to heal ourselves and thrive for the benefit of future generations?

The Burnt elements in my work speak to the decay that is left behind by the corrupt and their systematic greed that works to try to cripple and stifle our attempts to triumph despite the challenges that we have faced.

“Scorched Earth” is a metaphor that I use to explore continental or regional politics that the masses constantly try to survive and evolve from. I narrate the story of Africa and her people, our challenges, and our efforts to triumph over them. The collages are references to the words of iconic writings of the likes of Steve Biko’s “I write what I like “, “Shebeens, take a bow!: A celebration of South Africa's Shebeen lifestyle “ - Jim Bailey and Adam Seftel. Their words help me to process History in my attempt to make sense of the Contemporary.

By looking at the works as mirrors of life and how it requires you to think of the relation between fantasy and nothingness: what is mistaken for silence is, all of a sudden, transubstantial. In the unsettlement of you the viewer (Eliott, 2022)

By Ronald Muchatuta and Ruzy Rusike


Eliott, J., 2022. Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Hope.