Zimbabwe Digital News
There is ice cream. And then there are ice cream cones, and then there are ice cream sticks. Add to that – the art of making fruit bowls, lamp shades, flower pots, baskets, holders and the like.
This is all in a day’s work for Chenai Mutseka, one of the new breed of Zimbabwean business women who have turned their artistic minds into innovative creativity, and an exciting business prospect – out of mere ice cream sticks – read wood.
Mutseka’s exhibition stand was one of the highlights of the Proudly263 mega expo in Kempton Park, and being a first time exhibitor at any recognised platform, the businesswoman took full advantage to show off the best side of her handiwork.
The multi-talented artist not only came to sell, and put her products out for the public to view and judge – but also to see how other people – who are surviving on the dusty streets of Greater Johannesburg – manage to turn otherwise undiscovered talents into tangible products to trade for exhibition space, and put on the market.
“You never know. Like many other Zimbabweans living in the SA diaspora I do many things to put food on the table. I make various forms and designs of curtains, but I also import and sell Zim products to African communities. Dried fish – matemba – mufushwa, nzungu and so on .
“With peanuts I make peanut butter, and wanhu wakawanda waenda nenyika ne dovi reku Zimbabwe. Enda ku Pick n Pay unoona hako.
“But it is with the ice cream sticks that we are making a splash. There is potential there, and with the right connections, we believe that the art of ice cream is yet to be discovered,” Mutseka said.
The uniqueness of Zimbabwean arts and culture
Zimbabwean art was in full season at the trade fair, as billboard artists, craftsmen and women, designers, creators, manufacturers and innovators went to town exhibiting off the power within, and Mutseka took her rightful place.
She was not shy to tell visitors to her stand that art for her was an outlet for expression and therapy.
“Haisi nyore kuzvigadzira zvinhu izvozvi because haungo gadzike masticks, you have to line them up and put them in different sides – asi wakabata shape yako.
“Each log has its own symmetric weight, and if you miss the alignment by a breath, the whole structure collapses. You have not only lost the project, but also time yako, and ne glue racho, because haridzosereke mubhodoro.
“But bottom line, it makes me happy kugadzira ma products iwaya. I speak to these shapes and products and tell them kuti dzikama, dzikama, mira ipapo. Chitangira uku. Bata chitanda zvakanaka.
“It not unusual to talk to you business. Even farmers talk to their cattle. We are ready to show the world that there is more to wood that dipping it into ice cream, and licking it.”
Mutseka said growing up and living in Zimbabwe in her formative years had taught her how to appreciate the small things in life. She had developed her own talent after watching her Sekuru, carving out countless wood and making structures for selling in the towns.
This taught her that while we are Zimbabweans at large, it is these attributes in our hands and minds that makes us unique.
“You cannot replace Zimbabwean art with anything. Believe me, if you are a Zimbabwean, your languages, sense of being, norm and crafts, are simply that. Zimbabwean. You won’t find it anywhere else, and my Sekuru and other artists taught me that art is human.”
She had to develop her business skills on her own, and being a single mother had equally taught her about the fickle nature of the human spirit, and the need for control of one’s emotions.
“There are many challenges pazvinhu zvandino gadzira. People love the arts and the unusual styles. You can decorate your entire home with them, the kids love them, but you have to be strict around the house as kids think that these are toys.
“They easily break so the challenge for me as the manufacturer is whether to use industrial glue, or domestic glue which is cleaner.
“Tichikura taiundzwa kuti iri ibasa revarume, but if given the chance and opportunities, I would like to teach all the women out there kuti forget the problems at home and in your life. Discover your hidden talents and take the expressions out there. It’s all in your mind,” she said.
Perfect template for Proudly263Global
Proudly263Global CEO, Stan Makwara said that Mutseka’s exhibition was one of the true successes of the trade fair, and this was the perfect template which Proudly263Global was using to incubate business among migrant communities.
“Look at what Chenai can achieve, given her talents, and the products that she is making. What she needs is strategic business coaching, and with the right connections – these are the type of inspiration stories that we are bringing at Hello Sahwira.
“Or organisation is looking for more of these stories, and we are saying, forget those people who were dismissing us as a whatsapp group.
“If we are a whatsapp group, then how come we could get 800 people to visit and participate at our Expo. There were many more people like Chenai Mutseka there, and there are thousands more that we are going to discover.
“As Zimbabweans we want to show the world that we are united, we help and assist each other, and that we will unite our people under one roof. Watch how we are going to grow with Chenai and watch how we are going to grow with Zimbabwe.
Comment on this report: Call/text/whatsapp: (+27) 834767918