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Biography of Spee NZANTE

Cameroon > Arts : Spee NZANTE

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Biography :

Nzante Spee (1953-2005), was a Cameroonian painter.

Born in Mbem, Cameroon, in 1953, S. Nzante Spee went to primary and secondary school at the Baptist Missionary College in Bamenda, Cameroon. In 1971, he left the college and began teaching English at Saint Mary's College in Mbalmayo, Cameroon. As a young man, since it was impossible to earn one's livelihood in Bamenda by painting, Spee decorated facades, bookshops and post offices. In 1976, he went to Nigeria to study fine arts for three years, and continued his studies in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire until 1982. By this point, Spee was recognized as a painter of great talent, with works being sold internationally. In spite of his rising reputation, he decided to return to Cameroon. Moving back to Bamenda, he had multiple expositions and workshops. In 1984, he won the Bastos Prize, awarded in honor of Cameroon's best painting of the year. From 1990 and 1991, he participated in the Festival des Francophonies (Festival of the French-Speaking World) in Limoges, France. Once again returning to Cameroon, Spee finally decided to carry out one of his oldest dreams: to set up an arts center in Bamenda in support of Cameroonian painters trying to make a career out of their art. Before the founding of the Spee Art Center, no one in Cameroon could believe that it is possible to make a living painting.

As Spee says, "Artists are not very appreciated in Cameroonian society. We are neglected and even if people do talk about festivals, once they are over, the same tough life starts up all over again."

Clearly, Spee shows that that it is possible to live and work as an artist. He has influenced countless young Cameroonian painters. His hope for all his students is for them to take their time to let their talents flourish rather than copying the work of others. Spee is is an artist/painter/singer/musician - unique from all poins of view - who has been able to export his work internationally, but without losing sight of his roots.

Some of Spee's earlier expositions

1989: Spee represented his province during a competition set by the Ministry of Health, aim was to sensitize the population to AIDS.

1990: 7th Limoges International Festival of Francophonie (7ème Festival International des Francophonies de Limoges); Centre Jean Gagnant.

1991: Saint-Jean de Ruelle, France.

1992: Competition on the theme "To welcome the stranger".

1993: Expositions between Bordeaux, France and Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Last update : 07/10/2007

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