Soon after the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in 2019 by government, local artists were forced to reassess their schedule and how they were going to earn a living.
To artist Chrisford Chayera, who had crossed borders to Asia to showcase his prowess in artisanal work, the restrictions brought in by the pandemic were a threat to his company Mtendere Arts Gallery and Signs. The lockdowns, among the many restrictions, would make him lose most of his foreign deals thereby affecting his income.
Chiyera is a special artist because his competence is unorthodox. He has no arms and legs so he uses his mouth to paint.
His markets were mainly Japan and Taiwan.
Such uncertainties and fears became key motivations for him to trade off his energy in mouth painting for printing services as his alternative source of income.
Same 2019 he found a shop in his long-time residential area, Kawale Township, where he started printing T-shirts and banners.
His modest hopes were that he would still be able to survive despite his new trade being less earning when compared to visual arts.
For a start, he employed ten people.
Unfortunately, during the post-election protests in 2019 his shop was ransacked.
On that fateful day, a crowd of demonstrators had diverted from the lawful designated route and descended on his shop which they tore open and went away with computers, printing machines, roll up stand banners and other office equipment valued at around K7 million.
In the absence of his art and printing business, his physical condition has now limited him such that he is failing to earn a decent living.
“Am currently selling charcoal but that does not give me enough for rent and food as I am singlehandedly looking after two children since my wife left years back,” says Chayera.
He is, therefore, appealing for financial support or printing materials so that he can resume his trade and be able pay his aide.
Chiyera is former Visual Art Association of Malawi (VAAM) president.