Vic Falls curio vendors make money through picking of bones

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ENTERPRISING Victoria Falls vendors have found a way of making money by picking bones to make unique traditional curios that are loved by tourists.

By Nokuthaba Dlamini

Big Five co-operative members operate at the backyard of KoNqgondongqondo in Chinotimba suburb. The 31 members of the cooperative specialise in different curio artefacts from bones, wood and iron.

When Southern Eye visited the site on Thursday evening, it was serious business with everyone working on their artefacts ranging from animals to human statues, bowels, salt shakers, knives and soap boxes, among others.

The artists said they pick the bones from restaurants and butcheries to make beautiful artefacts.

One of the members, Jabulani Dube, said they started collecting bones to use at home, but later decided to do that on a commercial basis in order to sustain their families.

“We started collecting more to make bangles, necklaces, salt and spice shakers, and handles of hunting knives,” Dube said.

“Many hunters especially tourists prefer such kind of artefacts as they are more durable. With the same bones, we make walking sticks mainly used by traditional chiefs for special ceremonies. We join those bones through gluing before shaping them and vanishing to any artefact.”

Another member, Justice Ncube who had just finished making a one metre long kudu stuffing said, to them, art was a hobby that they never went to school for.

He said they take pride in the art which depicted their way of culture mainly Tonga, Ndebele and Nambya which are dominant in the resort town.

Another attractive statue was of a topless and barefooted Nguni woman going to the fields carrying a traditional tray (ukhomane) on her head, dressed in animal skin skirt.

Once the artefacts are completed, they are taken to Sinathankawu curio market where hundreds of tourists flock every day to have an appreciation of the local talent.

A New Zealander, who just bought impalas, lion, cheetah and buffalo wooden magnets to stick on fridges said the art was beyond their imagination.

Lordula Mlilo who is based in Germany said: “We appreciate the work they put but they need to look into their pricing model.

They must be open to negotiations so that we buy more.”

Nguquko Tshili, a successful curio seller, survives on selling his products in Cape Town, South Africa, where many domestic and international tourists have an appetite on his art. The proud entrepreneurs said they were content with what they were doing and had no intentions of looking for something else.