Meet Jojo Tembo, a guy with a passion and a talent for tattooing. With his creativity, needle skills, and years of experience, he is one of the foremost tattoo artists in Zambia.
Born in Zambia to Zambian parents, Jojo moved to Swaziland at a young age. Jojo has since traveled extensively in Africa, and has tattooed dozens of people in multiple countries.
Although Jojo himself admits that his early work was done through trial and error, through an international apprenticeship, hard work, and dedication to the art form, his work is now world class, and has been featured in magazines and newspapers in Swaziland and Zambia.
The Expat Zambia team sat down with Jojo to talk about his experience with tattoo culture in Zambia.
Jojo: Full time tattoo artist.
How did you find your passion for tattooing?
I was born with it. I have always been fascinated with body adornment. I am Ngoni [a tribe in Zambia] and those cultural influences have also contributed to my passion..
How did you get started in tattooing?
In the beginning, my father saw that I loved to draw free hand and that I was very artistic. I told him that I really wanted to become a tattoo artist. I was fortunate to have my father’s support, and he bought me my first ever tattoo machine. Starting out, I experimented on a limited amount of test subjects; people willing to accept that it was trial and error. I also self experimented and tattooed on myself.
What training have you received?
I met a world class tattoo artist who is half-British, half-Swazi. He took me to England as his apprentice in 2008, and from there I have been traveling around Africa and tattooing in different studios.
England, Mozambique, South Africa, Malawi, Zambia and Swaziland.
What types of tattooing do you do?
Besides professional artistic tattooing, I also do cosmetic tattooing, such as permanent eyebrow enhancing on women.
What’s the most interesting or challenging tattoo that you’ve done?
I was once asked to do the Hindu God, Shiva. This was my first experience with Hindu Mythology and that style of art.
Zambia is a fairly conservative place. What is the attitude towards tattoos in Zambian culture?
Tattoos in Zambia are a traditional art form, which have been temporarily undermined by Christian Ideology. However, it continues to thrive because of its traditional origins, and is gaining popularity again.
Many Zambian tribes practice traditional tattooing, especially in the villages. Traditional tattooing is called Ndembo, and is used for medicinal and spiritual reasons. However, I specialise in professional tattooing for the love of art (and the lucrative returns).
You can see more of Jojo’s tattoos by following him on instagram. If you’re interested in getting a tattoo, you can call or whatsapp him on +260 972 416 783.