Munawa Manhenga was born in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1948, into a family descended from the Pimbi of Mozambique, a branch of the Shona people. He started carving in 1972 with the encouragement of his friend and recognized artist, Boira Mteki. He is best known for his carvings of stylized and elegant elephants, taken from a vision of the elephant spirit he saw in his dreams. Munawa suffers from Parkinson’s disease. Although the trembling does not deter his daily carving, it does tire his arms. His work, he explains, is his joy: “It gives me great pleasure and contents the spirits inside me.”
Munawa Manhenga was sculpting at the National Gallery in Harare when he was invited to show his work at a special exhibition for the Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank in 1986. This was a serious achievement since his work would be side by side with that of more established and documented artists. A few of his pieces are now in the permanent collection of the National Gallery in Harare.