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News - Date: 10 October 2021
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Thirty-three years ago, 22-year-old George Matemera fled from his country, Mozambique, during the civil war that had led to so many lost lives. With only the clothes on his back, Matemera found refuge in Zimbabwe. With nothing to eat, the young man had to make a plan to put some food on the table and because he harbours such a hate for crime, he decided to join other young men at the local arts centre in Victoria Falls, where he was taught wood sculpting. With the harsh economic conditions in Zimbabwe, Matemera legally crossed to South Africa, where he now carves beautiful wooden sculptures in Antonvilla, Musina.
With age catching up with him, Matemera (now 55) makes a call on young people who would like to learn wood sculpturing to come on board, so that he can teach them these skills free of charge. “I have realized that most wood sculpture artists are elderly and that young people do not seem to be interested,” he said. “The fact is that we need young people to continue with this rewarding career when we depart from this earth. This knowledge should be passed on from one generation to another, so that we can preserve our beautiful art. My plan is to open an art school to equip young people with these much-needed skills.”
Matemera uses home-made axes and chisels to work with and collects dead wood from the bush to make his sculptures, because he loves nature and does not want to cut down beautiful trees. “My home-made tools come in handy because I cannot afford big machinery to manufacture my sculptures. I then do the final touches with shoe polish, so that my sculptures can shine. My biggest problem is to get marketing exposure to display and sell my sculptures on a wider scale. I will be happy if I can get someone to assist me with this, so I can sell my products in all corners of the world.”
Because of the poor network reception where Matemera lives, young people who want to be taught wood sculpting and those who would like to assist him to market his work can contact his associate, Tshepo Malesa, on 079 635 2825.
George Matemera with some of the wooden sculptures he makes using his home-made tools. Photo: Supplied.