People turn to craft as industry fails to revive

As most industries remain closed, people out of formal employment have resorted to handiwork as source of living.

Tinsmith Joseph Chenge shows his wares.
Tinsmith Joseph Chenge shows his wares.

A mini survey carried out by The Zimbabwean found that an average eight out of every 10 households in Mashonaland East urban areas survive on home-based craftwork – mostly tinsmithing, basket and reed mat weaving.

“Following the economic meltdown of the last decade which resulted in the massive closure of industry, people shifted to handwork to make ends meet. In the past, this was shunned by most people and regarded as a preserve for members of the Johane Marange Apostolic Church. It was embarrassing then for one to be identified with the handcrafters,” said Joseph Chenge, a tinsmith in Macheke.

In Macheke and Marondera, the number of craftsmen increases with each day, as job opportunities in the formal sector continue to shrink due to ongoing farm invasions and investor insecurity caused by the proposed 51 percent indigenization of foreign-owned companies.

“The country has turned into an industry dominated mainly by crafts workers and vendors. Some evensell their work in neighbouring countries,” said Susan Marange (62), a member of the Johane Marange Apostolic Sect who sells craft across borders.

She said some family members had set up camp in Botswana. Others export raw reeds and the craftwork is done nearer the market.

Post published in: News

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