Banadda Godfrey (Ugandan, born 1958)
Musisi (The Fly Whisk), 1995
Signed ‘GBannada 95’ (lower right)
Oil on canvas
109 x 109.3 cm
Ksh 500,000 – 840,000
(US$) 4,400 – 7,400
Provenance: direct from the artist

Banadda Godfrey is a celebrated Ugandan painter and an influential educator. He studied at the Margaret Trowell School of Fine Arts under the guidance of tutors including Francis Nnagenda and Fabian Mpagi. Following his graduation, Godfrey returned to the university as a lecturer, where he taught for over twenty years.

This painting is from a series of work created by the artist as part of his postgraduate research project, investigating deities of Baganda and Basoga mythology. The title, Musisi, is the Luganda name given to one of the deities and is also a name for earthquakes: a child born in the occurrence of an earthquake may be named Musisi, if male, or Namusisi, if female. The medium who becomes possessed of Musisi carries a fly whisk as an insignia to indicate the powers embodied in him. When rhythmically swung in different directions as the medium walks at night, the fly whisk is believed to ward off enemies and harm. The painting is a visualisation of the invisible swings of the whisk through transparent space.

Godfrey’s paintings have been exhibited internationally, including in the exhibition Seven Stories About Modern Art in Africa, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 1995, as well as in Scotland, Denmark, and regularly in Uganda. In 1987, he won the Uganda Cuban Friendship Society Prize with his painting Struggle for Freedom Against Racism in South Africa – the original painting is now in Cuba whilst the second edition was given as a state gift to Nelson Mandela on his visit to Uganda in 1997.