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Reflections on Prafulla Mohanti: Indian Village Tales

sondliwe with prafulla book e1686755441654

Sondliwe Pamisa with the publication “Prafulla Mohanti: Indian Village Tales” in Stuart Hall Library, 2023

Our recent archive volunteer Sondliwe Pamisa offers reflections on the publication, Prafulla Mohanti: Indian Village Tales.

It’s funny how the stories we are told as children shape who and how we are going to be. Not to mention the why but, the irony continues as we grow in this world and begin to discover the world outside of the ones we have become accustomed to.

A world full of so many, it is only when we spend the time necessary in order to understand our present dispositions that we begin to learn and understand that our worlds are not quite as special as we thought.

Now, herein lies the test of our character.

Upon the discovery of that which is unfamiliar at first, but afterwards is realised to be a lesson you have long held, learnt many moons ago, you are faced with a choice; either accept and harness the power of a collective identity or deny and fight the tide that guides you.

If you are anything like me, a faithful nihilist, you may find yourself in favour of the former; in the embrace of a collective identity bound with the seams of human need; but as we seem to be in a never ending battle of needs vs wants, the notion of balance within such a predicament may appear to be an ever-impossible reconciliation…

No need to fear, for I am here today with a recommendation! A humble one if I do say so myself, and I do say, so hear me out ndapota (‘please’ in shona).

There was a time when none of us assumed that our importance and value in this world is more than it is. and so, why don’t we make time to explore where it all began, in the earliest of our days, when the tales told where as big as the world itself.

Indian Village Tales by Prafulla Mohanti is a imaginative wonder. A collection of traditional stories from the coastal villages of Orissa in India, they express the reality of life and offer a deep insight into human character.

Often told through animals and birds, some stories contain morals, others are simply entertaining. All however, are an intimate portrait of a world unknown to many, but home to us all.

Illustrated by the author, throughout the book, the reader is transported to a world away, to be enjoyed by both children and adults.

Beautiful and timeless, the tales told are sure to help shape who we continue to grow to be. Good food for real.


Sondliwe Pamisa is a Zimbabwean-born interdisciplinary artist living and working in London, UK. Using the world around him, in particular the people that have shaped the spaces he exists in and thus, his oeuvre, Pamisa explores and chronicles the poetic and lyrical nuances of daily life. A contemplative and prayerful understanding is expressed in his work informed by a narrative of his own, and of the world that is formed by what we make of the past. A collective notion is noticed by the artist, ‘I weave into my work a mirror for people to see themselves in, and in that mirror, they are able to see parts of who they are, and parts of who I am, and where I am coming from.’

With a delicate personal style, Pamisa is known for his use of colour and extending narratives, which play out through a series of dynamic works to suggest a structure of episodes or chapters. Drawing on an eclectic range of references, from ancient history to popular culture to contemporary politics, he encourages the viewer to piece together the fragments of the stories he presents.

His work has been commissioned in various formats and exhibited in a number of group shows. In addition, he has taken part in residencies, and his work was the sole focus of an exhibition entitled, Soil, that took place in 2020 at Leeds City Free Room. He is currently working on a number of projects, including a series entitled, rudo remumwe (the love of another), and a book entitled, Sketches of Pain. A book the artist is due to unveil late this year, it is a combination of poetry, prose and photography written and captured on a trip home to his native land of Zimbabwe in July 2022; the artist’s first trip home since his leaving in 2000.

A passage taken from Sketches of pain; entitled, the prayers of our grandparents:

‘If there are no more powerful prayers than those of your parents, then the ones of your grandparents are of an even greater power.

My gogo said, ‘give it all to God Sondy, and you will always be okay. We’ve come a very long way and I thank God because we are here; not because I am clever, but because it was God who decided it shall be so.’