How beads helped man find niche in artifacts industry | The Chronicle

2022-10-08 08:46:21 By : Ms. Sarah Chen

BORN and raised in a family where art ran through the bloodline, it was no surprise when Mr Chrispen Matsika (36) of Nketa suburb in Bulawayo developed a passion for craftwork at a young age.

Today, he is carving out a living by making artefacts. Mr Matsika, who has been doing craftwork since 2004, makes beads and other traditional materials out of recycled scrap metal and dry bones.

He represents a crop of an emerging brand of entrepreneurs who are taking advantage of the limitless reach of the internet to market themselves online. Mr Matsika’s creations are most sought-after by international tourists.

He sells his products at Bulawayo City Hall. Mr Matsika is popularly known as ‘‘Mabasto,’’ which is also the brand under which he practices his craft.

Mabasto also does metalwork, wood carving, basket weaving, beadwork, dreadlock braiding as well as personalised arts and crafts.

Mr Matsika’s parents did craftwork and his father was consummate at welding and basketry while his mother did wonders with a crochet hook.

Most of the craftwork he makes, Mr Matsika said, is sold at events, shows, and expos that include the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).

The City Hall is where a majority of his tourist customers find him.

“I grew up in a setup where all I could see was art. I then got to learn most of the artwork through my parents and put it into practice,” said Mr Matsika

“This is how I applied my passion for craftwork into a source of livelihood.”

Mr Matsika said recycling all the scrap material that people throw away is not only his way of tidying up the environment but also getting to appreciate how he can change it all from nothing to something.

“My business has been going very well ever since I started, but it was then interrupted by the Covid-19 lockdowns because I was not able to sell anywhere since no people were buying, especially tourists,” he said.

“That’s when I turned to market myself on WhatsApp and Facebook. However, business is starting to pick up and I am also looking forward to fruitful years ahead.”

Mr Matsika said he makes his craft in line with what is trending and depending on the seasons. Now that it’s summertime, he is making sun hats.

The artist has a wide array of African-inspired artefacts such as earrings, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, sun hats and cooking sticks. His beaded cultural work is representative of traditional groups such as Zulu, Xhosa and Sotho. Some of the beaded work has colours of the Zimbabwean flag.

“I mostly specialise in bone jewellery using cow hooves, horns and various animal teeth. Applying my artistic skills, I transform those bones into something remarkable using grinders that have customised sand papers,” said Mr Matsika.

“I also use the shell of the African fruit ‘umkhemeswane’, polish it and get nice necklaces or bracelets from it. For metal bracelets, I mostly use scrap metal to make beautiful pieces of art.”

Mr Matsika said he sources beads from South Africa for necklaces, bracelets and anklets.

“The challenge that I have in this business is that I am operating from a place where there is no shelter or shade for my products. I am therefore affected by the different seasons of the year with my products being exposed to the sun, the dust and rain,” he said. — @ReeSibanda

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