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Flowing against the current - Nonqha

by Maxwell Teedzai
28 Jun 2021 at 14:01hrs | Views
At a young age of nine, Nonqhabelo Ncube taught herself to crochet using a pattern book and observing her mother and aunt who used to crochet.

"I believe I was born with an art and craft talent and growing up as a child in my father's house, I loved to make and design things," Ncube says.

Ncube - now 33 - vividly reminisced her childhood days and narrated how sometime in 2004 her aunt came to Zimbabwe from South Africa with her project of making crochet shoes from recycled plastic. The project fascinated her.

It was after her encounter with her aunt that Ncube was inspired and her passion for crocheting was fanned into flames.
 
"Around the first quarter of 2018, I decided to advance it from a mere hobby to a full-time business, and it zeal and hard work that set up into the art and craft business. The joy of watching someone derive happiness from my products, for me was an ethereal experience," she said.

Born in Embodweni, Nkayi, Zimbabwe in March 1987, Ncube did her primary education between 1993 and 1999 at Hullingbury School and her secondary education between 2000 and 2003 at Seke 2 High. At St Matthias Tsonzo, she completed her Advanced Level Certificate in 2006. She holds a Higher National Diploma in Beauty Therapy at the Christian College of Southern Africa (CCOSA).



Ncube's humble beginnings were full of hurdles. She had a talent but no market. Like many young women in Zimbabwe, she fought so hard to keep herself afloat in her new-found business.

"I began by making shoes for my friends. It grew from that and I got orders from people who admired my friends' crochet shoes and as far as capital was concerned, I had to go to work to raise extra money," she added.

Her father and a couple of her friends sponsored her with the capital to start her business.



Ncube is a victim of an early child marriage which never lasted. That meant she had to single-handedly fend for all her maternity needs and all the care to raise her first child.

Many of the young women in Zimbabwe often get tricked by their first love, who usually promises them a better life if reunited again in marriage. This is the time when most single women are impregnated for the second time and the boyfriend soon after that varnishes from the scene.



"I have two children, Chloe and Christy Joy, aged thirteen and eleven (Grades 7 and 5 respectively), and at present, I'm single and happier and I miss nothing at all and the good thing I have done is to teach my kidsmy craft," she said.

Ncube is also teaching young ls and women in her neighbourhood, the art of crocheting.

"I'm teaching the same craft to a few girls, women and men, so that at the end of the day, they economically improve themselves," she said.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of challenges for people like Ncube. Traditional markets have been eroded and that means new ways of marketing and sales of goods and services have to keep in step with changing times.

"Well, she revealed, I would say my biggest challenge is that in Zimbabwe, not many people appreciate crafts, or let me say they do not give it the value it deserves," Ncube said.

Apparently, other challenges Ncube faces include financial constrains, like for example, money to purchase materials, when a customer requests a new design which might require new materials.

Being raised in a poor and hard-to-reach Nkayi rural area, her childhood was not as easy. After her parents divorced, Ncube took over the care of their homestead and became the sole breadwinner.



"I sort of became responsible for my siblings. Had to look out for them especially when our mother passed away and it was nothing I couldn't handle at the time and rough childhood experience continues to negatively affect me in my adulthood as I didn't have a normal childhood," she said.

Ncube's mother died in a fatal road accident in Malawi in 2009.

"Life has not been rosy lately, and I recently went through a rough patch in my life, which led to me being separated from my kids when due to financial hardships, my e grandma took in my youngerkids while the eldest now lives with my sister," Ncube said.

Despite all that, Ncube is still supporting her kids but bemoans the harsh economic climate in Zimbabwe which is hostile to the art and craft industry.

Ncube is consequently looking at growing her market base by engaging modern social media services. She also conducts workshops, symposia and seminars where she invites women and teaches them on modern business know-how.

"Most women in business have no idea how to calculate the labour they put in to their products so as to get help on the running of the financial side of business. Also many women do not have the exposure, which is important in marketing one's products or meeting fellow business women in one's respectively," she said.

Like many Zimbabwean women, Ncube does not own a car, house, land or property in Munyati or anywhere else in Zimbabwe. She is a tenant and landless.

Source - Maxwell Teedzai

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