In 2021 Nantume Violet set off to meet Buluma Ochungo Mordecai in Busia, after nine months of intense research to connect with the artist.

When they met, the eighty-seven-year-old artist actively reflected on the specific events that inspired many of his artworks, sharing memories of his travels, jobs, and time studying at Mount Allison University.

Buluma is currently an elder and cultural leader in Bugwe kingdom. He was born to Wabwire William Ngakayi and Nekesa Janet in Busumba in the county of Samia-Bugwe, Uganda. The second of seven children, he attended Busia Primary School before joining Budo Kings College. Six years later, Buluma obtained the Cambridge School Certificate and, in 1956, he was admitted to the University College of East Africa, now Makerere University, in Kampala. He joined the Makerere Art School at the age of twenty-three and studied painting with Margaret Trowell and sculpture with Gregory Maloba and Cecil Todd. After graduating from Makerere University, Buluma applied to the Royal College of Arts in London. Three months later, in the fall of 1960, he received a Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship and instead joined the Fine Arts Department at Mount Allison University, where he studied painting, sculpture, and English for two years. In 1961, he received a Fine Arts Certificate from Mount Allison. Buluma went on to have a rich career in his home country where he worked as a practicing artist, teacher, and public servant for six decades.

In 2021, the Owens commissioned Nantume Violet, curator and director at the contemporary art gallery UNDER GROUND in Kampala, Uganda, to write an essay on Buluma’s life and career. This essay is part of a new online publishing initiative focused on sharing such histories. It was made possible thanks to the ongoing historical research and alumni engagement of Jane Tisdale, Fine Arts Conservator.
Read the essay by Nantume Violet