WHEN an announcement was made last year, at Minaki High School in Pugu, Dar es Salaam, for students to draw whatever, they liked, the then Form Five, Jovin Joseph, took on the challenge.
He was not deterred from not being told what would become of their drawings, but felt an urge to participate and did just that. “I decided to draw simply because it was an announcement.
Although I was enrolled on a PGM course, I always liked drawing and thought why not. It was after participating in this free drawing challenge that some of us were nominated to participate in a competition and told about the programme,” the tall and slender teenager told the ‘Daily News’ recently.
Actually, he only knew why they were asked to draw whatever they wanted after the exercise, when the students who drew what was considered a better drawing were told the reason behind the exercise was to find who amongst them were the best drawers.
These were then told about participating in a drawing competition for works based on the theme of the abolition of hanging. “However, it was only after I understood more about the international move to abolish hanging that I accepted to participate in this competition.
My reasons for accepting are basically based on the feeling I have to help people know that the death penalty should be stopped,” he said, now an 18-year-old Form Six student.
According to Jovin, participants of the competition were also provided with a lot of information connected to the subject of hanging and the cry for its abolition, before they were asked to draw their own presentation of the subject.
An exhibition of the 50 finalists of the drawing competition, “Draw Me Abolition”, was then organised by the French organisation “Together Against the Death Penalty” (ECPM) and opened to the public, at the Alliance Française venue, here in the City last month.
In defence of his holding to the opinion that the death penalty should be abolished, Jovin talked about there not being any direct correlation between somebody who had taken the life of another being hanged, acting as a deterrent to further such acts.
From his understanding of the situation, he feels it would be better to approach a person who has killed and try to find out why they had done that. The actual deciding factor for Jovin is that no one can be made to regret when they are dead.
It actually took this Form Six student one week to come-up with the drawing, which won the competition and became an internationally-recognised emblem of the move to abolish the death penalty.
Actually, he had drawn many other drawings over the space of a week, before coming-up with the winning one. He explains this drawing, as being someone playing the game of chess, who is left with two pieces.
One of the pieces symbolises the hangman’s noose, while the other, the scales of justice. He told the ‘Daily News’ that this came about because during his research, he discovered that most judges, who condemn others to be hanged, admitted it being a very hard decision to arrive at.
Secondly, many relatives of those hanged, saw it as being an unjust game.
“So, I tried to depict all of these imaginaries into the drawing, so as to make it more elaborative of the situation on both sides. The fact that chess is seen as a very hard game, is also entwined in the idea, together with the ironic twist that games are played to have fun,” he added.
During the conversation it was intriguing to learn that Jovin, who didn’t actually play chess, thinks his drawing had won the competition, mainly because he had made sure to put a lot of information, messages and things that a person would see and try to understand, in it.
Seeing it as the backdrop for the debate last month, to coincide with the “World Day Against Death Penalty”, which was jointly organised by local the French Embassy and the Children Education Society (CHESO) NGO, surpassed his expectations.
When the ‘Daily News’ caught-up with the Executive Director of CHESO, Enock Maduhu, last week, he talked about the drawing contest involving more than 60 countries, with students between the ages of 14 to 18 years of age.
He was extremely pleased to see that two out of the best 50 drawings selected were done by local youths, of which Jovin came out the overall winner.
From a conversation with the Head of Corporation and Cultural Affairs, at the local French Embassy, Philippe Boncour, it was learnt that as an incentive award Jovin will be taken to France early next year.
There he’ll visit the national assemble, the senate and a number of people working on the abolition of the death penalty, together with being taken to some cultural events there. Who would believe all of this started with a drawing.