Children in No Mans’ Land by Mamta Chitnis Sen (India)

“Children have always ended up the foremost victims of cross border terrorism and war to engulf nations across the globe, the recent violence on the Gaza strip notwithstanding.”

While children lose their families and homes due to conflict, the poverty that follows the violence eventually leads to thousands of children ending up orphans, often being forced to seek survival in lands where caste, creed, and colour dominate societal divisions. Their innocent minds succumb to the above diktats, eventually forfeiting childhood. The displacement of children through border conflict needs to be addressed on humanitarian grounds by one and all.

Displaced: Children in No Mans’ Land is an effort to highlight this vulnerability. A nude boy looks across a vast expanse of rich green fields trying to find a meaningful relationship, and a conversation with a lone scarecrow in war stricken territory brings forth the innocence of the mind of the child (despite the bleak surroundings) while he continues to explore hope and acceptance.

Like the scarecrow that stands guard over an empty field, the orphan boy too wants to survey the fields as his own; he wants to be a farmer with the sole intention of seeking solace on the empty patch of land calling it his very own home someday.

There is a Mandela in each of us (Nelson Mandela Day)

Art Nelson Mandela (Mamta Sen)

My artwork highlights the transferring of Mandela’s thoughts into actions through the colour green and the fertility that it generates through new beginnings, learnings, growth, harmony, and self-respect. Nature not only discards the old but converts it into something new and unique.

The lush green landscape teamed up with flowering trees juxtaposing with an abstract image of the freedom fighter aims to bring forth this message. Though Mandela is no more, his idea of a fertile world rich with flowering, progressive ideas and actions shall continue to influence our planet for years to come.

Mandela’s influence shapes our view of the world.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Nelson Mandela

I first happened to notice Nelson Mandela on my black and white TV set when I was 10 years old. I saw the image of a coloured man sitting inside a prison cell; he appeared serene and calm. Images of his supporters fighting for his release outside his cell dominated the screen.

His release in the early nineties further fuelled my curiosity and like any other viewer I absorbed his biography with a strong interest, especially for his thoughts on freedom and racism. Mandela’s choice to spend over two decades in jail fighting against racism and democracy for his people confused yet fascinated me at the same time. His marriages too were interesting, and it was his continuing choosing of love over bitterness that further strengthened his sway on the public through his words and deeds, which was proof enough of the man’s belief in himself.

In my journalistic work I often meet and interview activists fighting for their beloved causes but none have reached the heights that Mandela achieved. Could this be because they lack his passion, or that they are too scared to venture out of their comfort zones into new relationship territory including positive dialogue with those with whom they were previously opposed?

The idea of spending over two decades in jail fighting against racism and working for democracy would be a scary thought for most of us, but the man nevertheless attempted to live his life as the ultimate adventure, and lived to tell us about it too.

That truth is dissected and categorised as per convenience leaving less scope for discovery is frustrating enough for us. With schools and institutions cultivating future leaders to follow tailor-made struggles is something that should be thought about. As Mandela once said, “I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

As the world gathers to commemorate the first anniversary of Mandela’s death, I have already begun my journey of climbing a great hill, not knowing what I may find on the other side. But I remain truly hopeful, holding close the idea that it will surely be something worth living up to like Mandela did; and all this simply because he continues to influence the way we view the world.

As a journalist and a painter, I believe in creatively using words and art as media to address issues and to empower people across all ages and from all walks of life.

Mamta Chitnis Sen is a journalist with The Sunday Guardian, a weekly published from London, New Delhi, Mumbai and Chandigarh since 2008. She has also worked as a political writer with Mid-Day and Society magazine. She is based in Mumbai.

A management degree holder with a special focus on resource mobilization, Mamta has been actively involved in hosting capacity building workshops for women from different political parties in India. An artist and alumni of Sir J J School of Art, she has exhibited her works at various art exhibitions across India. Her works mostly in oils and acrylics revolve around documenting the slow yet disappearing lives and identity of people, especially women living in rural India.

“I find the platform of World Citizen Artists to be unique and refreshing, as a place where one can connect with many like-minded people working towards the betterment of the world through our work and ideas, and the using of creativity and art as a medium of enrichment.”


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