Tengenenge is a typical African village. What makes it different from thousands of other villages scattered throughout southern Africa is the occupation of its inhabitants. In Tengenenge live almost exclusively sculptors and their families. They began to settle there from the mid-60s of the last century at the instigation of a white farmer, prospector and bohemian Tom Blomefield. Today, nearly two hundred sculptors live there. Most of the sculptors live with their families directly in the Tengenenge. Some sculptors live in the surrounding villages and attend Tengenenge to work on sculpture.
Each of the sculptors has dedicated space where he/she exhibits sculptures. Tengenenge is the largest open-air gallery of statues in the world. It is almost impossible to estimate the number of statues that can be seen in Tengenenge in one moment. What is certain is that there are thousands of statues.
The uniqueness of Tengenenge is also due to its natural wealth hidden in the hills of the Great Dyke, at the foot of which the village lies. The mountain range stretches at the length of several hundred kilometers from north to south through central Zimbabwe plateau and the mountains are rich in metal ores. Great Dyke offers residents of Tengenenge other resources – supplies high-quality stone suitable for sculptural work. Near the village are mined serpentine and spring stone – a harder dark black variety of serpentine.
The village wakes up with dawn and falls asleep with the sunset. The economic crisis in Zimbabwe drove electricity prices to sums that the village cannot afford to pay these days. So life in Tengenenge returned to the rhythm of life, which was natural for people for thousands of years, to the rhythm which is limited by the morning sun and evening alpenglow.
As soon as the sun rises in the morning the beating of stone hammers begins to sound though the village and it does not quiet down until the evening twilight. The background sound of sculpting is just another fragment in the mosaic consisting in an unrepeatable genius loci of Tengenenge. It is due to the position of the village in the foothills of the Great Dyke, due to thousands and thousands of statues scattered under the trees around the village and ubiquitous tapping of sculptor’s chisels. All this creates an atmosphere that once you visit the village immediately conquers your heart.
Do you wonder where lies Tengenenge? Please look at the map.