One man’s rubbish is another’s art

Some called him Mangongongo, a name derived from the noise he makes when making toy cars from empty tins. Others call him VekuMarabu, meaning one associated with rubbish, as he often recyles rubbish for his art.

Wonder John (right) with some of his creations.
Wonder John (right) with some of his creations.

He is Wonder John, a father of four whose artistic talent has made him the bread-winner since 1990. “Through my art I have managed to feed my family and sent my children to school,” he said in an interview with The Zimbabwean.

His love for art began while he was still in primary school. “As an artist one has to be creative and come up with new ideas that have never existed before. One should have an image in the mind of what things should be and come up with something of interest,” he said.

Using simple items most people would have rejected, such as empty tins, bottle tops, cardboard, old mattress wire and discarded newspapers, John can make different pieces of art – including kitchen units, stoves or bedroom suites.

He has worked at Chitungwiza Arts Centre and the National Arts Gallery and some of his pieces have been sent to other countries, including South Africa, Ghana and Australia.

He blamed lack of unity among artists for crippling the industry and called upon promoters to scout talent from marginalized areas.

“My neglected rural experience has taught me a lot. If I had found someone to promote me while I was a young I could be somewhere. I urge those who can promote art to search the talent that lie ] idle in most remote areas,” he said.

John still has higher hopes of making his name recognized at both national level and across international borders. He gets up to $300 per set for his creations. “Art pays after a long time and it needs a lot of patience,” he added.

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