Mkumba Steven (born in 1963) is the only painter in the Tinga Tinga Cooperative who is of the Makonde tribe, and not of Makua tribe like most of the other painters. Makonde people are known for their great wood sculptures made of the black ebony tree. He became apprentice to the late Mzee Salum Mussa “Lumumba” and after three years of apprenticeship he started to paint independently.Mkumba has his own distinctive Tinga Tinga style, but it is very subtle so not easy to spot by a layman. Some of his paintings depict violent scenes both in the animal and human “kingdom”. One of his paintings was rejected by 2010 Fine Art company which licensed the images to FIFA World Cup 2010 (TM) because it showed the police beating people. Mkumba is definitely an artist who projects his soul into his art! Currently Mkumba takes care of the economy of Tinga Tinga Cooperative. He participated in Tingatinga exhibitions at the National Museum of Dar es Salaam in 1995 and 1996. His painting of Zebra was selected for HEYE puzzles.
Is Tinga Tinga the least understood art style in the world? It seems so after being labeled as tourist art or airport art! But if you look at the paintings created by Steven Mkumba, you don’t see mass produced art but paintings made as much by colours as by soul! It is Mkumba’s soul who is talking to us, not his desire to get money from you into his pocket.