Henry Michael Lutalo Lumu (HMLL)

Henry Micheal Lutalo Lumu.Henry in London 1965. He went to England to study television production as artistic director . Photo courtesy of www.kibuuka.com.

1. Introduction.
Henry Michael Lutalo Lumu (HMLL) was born in December, 1939 in the family of Mr. and Mrs. Nekemiya Bbosa Lumu (NBL) in Ruharo near Mbarara in Ankole District, Uganda. Lumu Senior already had a daughter and son before Henry; and was an aspiring young trader who was to establish one of the most successful Grocery Shops in the Colonial period when Mbarara used to be referred to as a Boma. The large rambling family house set in an extensive Plantation of bananas , sprawling herd’s of cows ,goats and sheep and growing in the shadow of the Ruharo Anglican Cathedral must have imbued a lasting impression on Henry as evidenced by recurring themes and motifs of these Ankole rolling hills, long- horned cows and manifold crafts seen throughout his work.

2. Childhood.
At some point in Henry’s childhood , he must drawn and sketched with charcoal , if not on the walls of his father’s house then in the gravel in the homestead; and foraged with his peers in the Lusuuku (Plantation) for Byayi (the banana tree stems) and other articles and items to use in traditional children’s games of Kanneemu, Kantuntunu, kusiita siiti,entengotengo , gogolo , nkusibiddawo, kawuna,olusuubo,kasombo , okumbonga enje, and okwesa.

3. King’s College, Buddo.
However, the flowering of Henry’s talents as an artist must have become more evident during the Secondary school period at King’s College, Buddo. Often promising art students were commissioned to adorn large Murals on Walls with paintings of school life and these works, perhaps a little faded now, can still be seen at the school. Although Henry had planned for a career as an Architect by proceeding to the Nairobi Royal Technical College, his Buddo Headmaster, Mr. Cobb was persuaded by Margaret Trowell of the Makerere Art School to dissuade him otherwise and thereafter Henry destiny was cast in stone.

4. Makerere University‘s Margaret Trowell School of Fine Art.

The maturity of Henry’s craft as an artist surely was extended during the five years at the Margaret Trowell School; he was exposed to all the aspects of his trade Drawing, Sketching, Etching; Figure, Land scape, Portrait and Still Life, Diagrams, Painting and Sculpture . Many years ago I saw a copy of the Degree Thesis he submitted for his graduation in 1962 on the subject of Uganda Crafts- pottery , mat –making and various artistic art work- but I have no idea whether a copy is in the archives of the Art School.

5. Uganda Television.

Henry was lucky to graduate at the advent of Uganda’s independence when he was appointed as the First Artist Director of the then recently inaugurated Uganda Television Station at Nakasero Hill, formerly a Government Hospital. He was responsible for supervising the various onstage art work and background scenery for Children’s Theatre and props for news readers.

6. Thompson Scholarship in U. K.
Henry was sponsored by the Thompson Foundation to attend a U. K. Television Production course for a year in London. He greatly benefited in improving his skills and techniques in overall artistic innovation and creation of media production.
However, upon his return to Uganda, there had been political developments with clashes between the Central and Buganda government, so much so that he felt the working environment had become politically charged. He voluntarily left Government Service for the private Sector in keeping with his quest for a less stressful working environment.

7. Uganda Publicity Services.

Sharif Arain, a prominent Ugandan-Asian businessman, offered him a post as Artistic Director at his Company -The Uganda Publicity Services. During this period he produced lithographs for highlighting Health or Agricultural themes of campaigns to combat the spread of Polio or Tuberculosis – the simple but clear illustrations conveying a visual message to complement that put out on the airwaves.

8. East African Airways.
Then, being in great demand, it was inevitable that East African Airways (EAA) – an expanding Airline with far-flung destinations made Henry an offer he could not turn down. He became Head of EAA‘s Campaign and Publicity Section and threw himself into promotion work for the airline.

9. “Annual Esso Calendar Prize and after.
In between, work during the Uganda Publicity Services and EAA, Henry entered various competitions for creating the “Esso“ Oil Company’s Annual Calendar and he won it on more than one occasion.

10. Retreat to Nairobi.

Eventually Henry settled in Nairobi where he embarked on a new tempera of Batik art work which he took to such a high degree of sophistication that his prints were flying off the easel, such were they in demand by tourists and residents alike. Sadly, Henry met his untimely end in Nairobi at the peak of his powers but also possibly on the cusp of even greater artistic achievements. His departure left a big gap which others tried to fill, thanks to the trail blazing work he had started.

11. Conclusion.
Three European artists were greatly admired by Henry and he drew tremendous inspiration from their work, namely Jan Vermeer, Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin.
In a short art biography it is not possible to elaborate on all aspects of an artist’s work and maybe during the discussion and exchange of ideas and views, it will be possible to come back and fill in more impressions.

Prepared by Paul Mukasa-Ssali
New York, NY
27 July, 2009.

Postby David Katongole on Sat Aug 08, 2009 3:35 pm
I met Henry Lumu at King's College Buddo in 1951. This was the first school I ever attended. King's College Buddo was one of the most prestigious primary and secondary school, which usually gave education to the kings of Buganda in Uganda. Henry Lumu was one of the notable bigger boys, three or four years ahead of me. Quiet spoken but among the grown ups and the younger ones, in one word "Social". He was a protector of the less disadvantaged who shared his eats with others. This school was for many years without electricity; Henry was one of the sub lampers; Persons who took care of the lanterns and pressure lamps.

Henry was a very good swimmer, and excellent cricketer, a moderate footballer, who also played draughts and 'omweso'.

Of a fair size, Henry was very smart and was one of the early boys to wear shoes at the school. He loved brown and maroon colors story teller.
Henry was a very descriptive and creative story teller.

Privileged to be a good school, Henry started painting early in primary school. He painted in gouache and on sugar papers. A colorist with excellent drawing. Henry was at ease with pencil, charcoal, monochromes or colors. He was a realist at best. He was also got with the potters wheal.

Art Teachers:
An English lady, Miss Carney was Henry's art teacher for the most part of Henry's 12 years stay at Buddo. John Kisaka, became Henry's teacher in his final years at the school.

Makerere University, College:
Henry when he joined Makerere University, he was under professor Todd, Jonathan Kingdon, Michael Adams and Gregory Maloba. Professor Todd was the head of the school and was a master at drawing, painting and sculpture. Jonathan Kingdon was the head of the department of painting and drawing. A perfectionist and very creative. Michael Adams who was head of graphics department, was real colorist. Gregory Maloba, a rare talent headed the department of sculpture.

Uganda Television:

With His Makerere qualifications, he joined the newly established Uganda Television as the Uganda art director responsible for all artistic designs and commercials for the television. During His TV years Henry won numerous Esso painting Calendar Monetary awards in the 60s and 70s before he moved to Nairobi as a full time self employed artist. In Kenya he took 'batik making' for the first time, becoming very prolific in a very short time and climbing to the top. He produced hundreds of batiks before his death. Unfortunately this great man's work dons homes and offices throughout the world and cannot be easily traced.

Henry is my artistic progenitor since my childhood.

Time and space cannot suffice to tell the social and artistic life of Henry.

Re: Henry Lutalo Lumu
Postby sekanwagi on Tue Oct 13, 2009 12:04 am

by Dan Sekanwagi – Houston Texas

Henry Lutalo Lumu was (did I say was?), I take that back! Henry Lutalo Lumu even though no longer with us is still one of the most generous people I met in Nairobi in the mid 1970’s when as a young artist I found myself in a foreign land after running away from the murderous regime of dictator Idi Amin.

Of course I had heard of Henry in Uganda because he was a celebrity artist with accolades the size of ’all outdoors’ but I had not had the good fortune of meeting him! When I finally met him in Nairobi, I could have sworn it was the hardships of struggling for survival in a foreign country that must have brought about the modest lifestyle Henry appeared to be living.

It did not take me long to realize that the guy was a naturally simple fun filled – down to earth human being genuinely interested in people and their issues. While Henry shared artistic ideas and techniques with fellow artists regularly, he was not the kind of guy who would do art talk all the time. When he was engaged in some other life issues, he would tune completely out of the art talk.

I will forever be indebted to Henry for helping me archive my earlier work. I was at the French Cultural Center Gallery setting up my first exhibition when Henry happened to stop by. The French cultural Center was a great meeting place for artists of all sorts -- operating in all sorts of communication mediums and disciplines. The Center had a well stocked library, a performance theatre, a sizable art gallery and an exquisite bistro. Henry frequented the center to keep himself informed of what’s going on in the world around him and to meet with artists and share ideas.

It was at one of his usual drop bys that quite coincidently I was excitedly hanging my paintings for the exhibition that was due to open later that evening. Henry had not seen any of my forty pieces that were being unveiled to the public even though he had read the great previews in the weekend newspapers. He was excited for me that I had come up with a new style of artistic self expression.

I was busy trying to beat the time for the opening so Henry didn’t want to bother me as he went around the gallery looking at what I had already put up. When he finally caught up with me he expressed his genuine appreciation of the work and then asked me if I had taken photographs or better still slides of the work I was hanging for the exhibition. When I told him I hadn’t, the expression on his face changed and expressed grave concern that I was about to loose my images to art collectors who I might never meet again and therefore never have access to the images ever again. I believe it was out of duty and personal experience that he did not wish what might have