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Nakivale: Makano, a refugee & maths graduate painting his dream: It takes me over 6oo hours to execute one art piece

By An Executive Editor

Chadrack Makano alias Makano Arts, 21, is a refugee from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and is currently settled at Nakivale Refugee Settlement camp in Western Uganda. Makano lives there with two of his elder sisters who are all in to tailoring and cutting garment. However, Makano, a graduate of Mathematics and Physics yet, he is instead painting his dream.

Abstract poetry is one of Makano’s ideas.

Read his full story in this Q & A

Question: Who is Chadrack Makano?

Answer: I’m Chadrack Makano, a 21 years old visual artist based in Nakivale refugee settlement. 

My friends call me @makano_arts because of my social media pages/accounts. I started showing my love for art when i was 8years old at school, then in the late 2018, i started doing it seriously after losing my parents. I believe that the society speaks and i feel like it’s my job to actually reply. I chose to speak through Art because it was the only way i understood the world. Whenever i read words, or write words i saw images.  Then i said to myself if this is the way i understand the world, i should use the same way to speak, people will understand my language because if i can understand it, other people can understand and relate with it too. I hope that i can use art to vent my pains and frustrations and also use it as a medium to voice my opinions and thoughts on social and topical issues because art is actually a loud voice to me, louder than my normal voice. Most of my artworks speak about social-political issues in the aim of connecting people and giving a voice to the voiceless. Working in collaboration with a talents development organisation called Faces Up Uganda, I’ve been able to preach my message of love, equality, liberty, hope and Faith to many young people who need inspiration. My name Makano means intersection, and all i want is to become a bridge that will connect people.

It takes Makano up to 600 hours to execute an art piece.

Question: Refugee? From where?

Answer: Nakivale settlement camp is where i stay and i am a Congolese from DRC.

Question: Since when?

Answer: 2018

Question: You came alone or you have some people you live with?

Answer: I stay with my 2 sisters and a younger brother.

Question: Older sisters?

Answer: Yes.

Question: How do you all survive in the camp? How is life in the camp?

Answer: We get some food from UN, but because it’s not enough my sisters are tailors and they believe in what am doing. So, they support me.

Question: How did you get into Art. Someone introduced you to it or was it part of your subjects in school?

Answer: No one taught me and no one told me to start… As i said i wanted to speak and my voice wasn’t enough and i chose art because whenever i read or write i see images… And sometimes i even use those words to create art and i call that style ‘ABSTRACT POETRY’. Losing my parents and becoming a refugee taught me how to perfect my skills and that’s why i only draw/paint portrait because people means everything to me. I practice every day, i try to persist and i have patience. So these 3Ps (Practice, Patience, Persistence) are the key of my skills. My art born out of the zeal for perfection both in skill, devotion and expression to create positive changes in world.

Makano taught himself art

Question: Do you sell your work?

Answer: Yes. However, at first i wasn’t but after winning the competition in 2021, i started selling some of my works.

Question: At how much?

Answer: Those i sold already are between US$ 50 and US$ 200.

Question: Who are your clients?

Answer: People from Uganda, Kenya, Cameroon, USA and UK.

Question: How do you get the clients, social media?

Answer: Yes most of them i get through social media and @facesup.

Question: How much did your first art piece cost?

Answer: US$ 50

Question: Do you remember where and to whom you sold it?

Answer:  Yes, i sold my first painting to a old man from USA called Erick, who came to visit Nakivale refugee settlement. He liked it and bought it at US$ 50.

Question: When was that?

Answer: In late 2019.

Question: How long did it take you to sell another painting?

Answer: I spent a lot of time without selling.

Question: How long?

Answer: More than a year.

Question: Let’s talk about the competition that changed your mind about selling your work..

Answer: It was organized by @facesupuganda at @motivug supported by @africanculturefund. 

Question: What came with the win, a reward?

Answer: I got a certificate, 500k as winner and got a chance to be introduced to different art galleries.

Question:  Looking back. Do you regret getting into the Art world?

Answer: Art is my world and sometimes i ask myself what would i do if art never existed the answer is always ‘i don’t know’

Question: Did you ever try hands on anything else apart from Art?

Answer: In 2018, i was in RDC. I completed my senior degree in Mathematics and Physics and got graduated but now, i don’t know anything about Mathematics or Physics. I just forgot everything.

Question: How much time do you spend on one art piece?

Answer: Up to 600 hours.

The Makanoism style in picture.

Question: What would you say are the challenges you have faced along the way?

Answer: Like I said earlier. I started everything alone but i got a lot of challenges along the way especially in 2021.

These challenges were mostly financial,  I reached a point where it was difficult for me to get food and i couldn’t work anymore.

The first art piece Makano sold.

Question: and how did you deal with the challenge?

Answer: @facesup helped me a lot, especially Emma. I talk with him every day, i see him like my big brother because he’s always there for me and i don’t think that i could be the Makano i am without @facesup’s support. They also believe in me and even about the solo exhibition, they were the one to tell me that i can do it, so i started preparing myself as also they were working day & night to make it happen.

Question: What plans do you have for the Art industry?

Answer: I have a project am working and i call it Makanoism where i use only the 5 primary colors which to connect people from the 5 primary continents.

Question: Please explain…

Answer: I use Black for Africans, White for Europeans, Red for Americans, Yellow for Asians and Blue for Oceanian. I bring those colors together to create a portrait which speaks for all.

Question: Why the new approach?

Answer: It’s a new style i created and i hope to preach it and bring the world closer together.

Question: Anything else?

Answer: I am actually planning to start teaching the style and i’ll be suggesting people to join the team so that we can work faster because my dream is to paint in every country in the world before my death.

The art piece that took Makano 600 hours.

Question: You are a refugee living in Uganda. How would you describe Uganda and her people?

Answer: When i was i DRC i used to fear them but when i came here, i realized that they are good people and that even drove me to speak out for them by featuring only Ugandans in #MadeInUganda series, i used Ugandan celebrities to pass my message coz they are public figure, so people can relate to them.

To support, Makano’s hustle. Reach out to him via 0775870771.

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