Aged 34, Lutaaya was a renowned Ugandan artist, known for his love for painting
Speak of the late Benon Lutaaya, his Aunt Milly Kaggwa recalls becoming his guardian after he lost his parents at the age of 16 when he was in his O’ level.
She is a former teacher and retired from Kings College Bubo.
“I took care of him after the death of his father to complete his O’ Level and I later took him to study A’ Level first at St. Lawrence College (S.5) and Mengo S.S. (S.6) after scoring impressive grades.”
He enrolled on Government Scholarship at Kyambogo University for a Bachelors of Vocational Art and Design with Education, and concurrently completed a computer course at Makerere University,” read a statement that she wrote at a memorial held in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
Aged 34, Lutaaya was a arenowned Ugandan artist, known for his love for painting, based in South Africa for the last eight years.
He was diagnosed with a brain tumour that turned cancerous leading to his death on April 14 in Johannesburg.
In her written statement she noted “He would ride a bicycle to connect between the two universities.
Lutaaya completed his Primary education excellently in Kiwanyi village, Bukoto - Masaka, while living with his now deceased grandparents Mr. and Mrs. Isaaya Katwere. The grandparents taught him how to work hard. His interest in art is traced from his father.”
She adds that after graduation, he refused to be employed and resorted to scavenging for art materials from rubbish pits from the streets of Kampala to make impressive art pieces.
“I remember him trying to apply for jobs on several occasions when all his peers seemed to be employed, pass interviews but fail to report for work. He treasured his art work more,” she said.
Andrew Semwezi his cousin, a lecturer at Uganda Martyrs University said he last heard from him on March 9 after they communicated with his workmates two days to his death.
“We had planned together because he needed to give back to his village. We crafted the idea during his last visit. But he had wanted to make project space stable first. So it was registered but remained dormant,” he said.
Semwezi added that his late brother and his business partner Aysha at project space came in August last year for the Art biennale and also had plans for art mentorship charity for children in his home area. He plans to continue with this project in memory of him.
Artists speak out
Stacey Gillian Abe
“He has been termed as an encyclopaedia of knowledge and everything about his life, art growing up, and he had so much to share,” These are words that describe Benon Lutaaya as Stacey Gillian Abe one of the people who benefited from his talent narrates.
“I met Benon through the young female residency programme rest of Africa through The Project Space, an organization he founded.
The programme was funded by him in partnership with the 32 East Ugandan arts trust. I applied for it and he took care of all my expenses. I had heard so much about him and the excitement to finally meet him was on the roof.”
She remembers some of his common statements “he always emphasized whenever I had doubts about my direction in my work, he would say “Do not think twice about it. Just do it and then think later" and about being present in this reality was what he always said "... Perception is reality. "And I have always used those words as reference points moving forward,” said Abe.
Donald Wasswa, an artist
“Benon and I were from the same art department, Kyambogo University, I was a year ahead of him. We again met in 2016 Johannesburg; he was a mentor for Barclays Africa L'atelier competition's top ten finalists where I was one of the artists.
He was a generous person using his art to support others,” this is what Wasswa recalls about his fallen friend. Most importantly, I remember him for being the most selfless, kind and giving person.
So many artists from Uganda loved his work. He was a darling to the entire artist fraternity
His body will be flown in next week for burial.
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