Jonathan - known as Jones – has been working with Artisans & Adventurers since 2016. He makes our delightful beaded animals and fish. We spoke to him recently to find out how life was treating him in Zimbabwe.
How did you begin working with A&A?
I met Bee in 1996 in Hackney, London. My brother Bernard introduced me as he had been working with Bee. We had been travelled to the London to set up a stall selling our wire products in Covent Garden which was very enjoyable and successful. Bee was kind enough to house us and show us our way around London. We remember when Bee visited Zimbabwe with her son Conor who was then only 5. He got on so well with my brother’s boy, Tawanda as they were the same age. Tawanda sadly passed away recently. This for us was a very sad and shocking even. We still do not know what happened but he got ill and this grew worse due to the lack of medical help and care in Zimbabawe and without the correct medical attention he passed.
We enjoyed Bee’s visit. They stayed with us in our then home in Zengeze and we showed them around Harare. Back then Zimbabwe was much easier to travel around and I remember waving goodbye to them when they departed at Harare station on a train bound for South Africa.
Do you enjoy working with A&A?
Yes! Definitely - I enjoy it very much. It’s actually a blessing working with Artisans & Adventures as it is not only benefiting me financially but other crafters as well. The money goes a long way to pay house rent, school fees and putting food on the table.
Tell us what it's like working on the new designs!
I love working on new designs and it gives me such pleasure. Amy's new designs help to broaden our line of products. Her ideas are so interesting and the lobsters we have been making are very special. Zimbabwe is a landlocked country so lobsters, jelly fish and star fish are unusual for us. We do not get to travel to the ocean but working on these designs helps us imagine them. We also enjoy working on the Seagulls which we understand are a very abundant bird in Margate where Artisans & Adventurers is based.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a Zimbabwean wire crafter. I have been working with wire and beads
since 1985. It has always been my main source of income. I’m a family man, married to Gloria and we have 3 children. Gloria is a Chef by profession she’s very loving and supportive. We are a very close family and I believe with the love of a family you can do anything! My son Joe is the eldest. He is 16 and still at school. His dream is to study computer engineering. He also loves to do wire craft. Shalom, my daughter is 14 and also at school. Her dream is to be a lawyer. Lastly there’s Jeremy. He is 12 and is in 6th grade. Jeremy wants to
do automotive engineering and he’s also into wire craft during his spare time he helps me out. We also have a small dog who is part of the family called Shinayne. We are an animal loving family and so much enjoy having a pet.
Tell us about living in Zimbabwe.
Life here is very expensive. Over the years it has become worse. Robert
Mugabwe did not make it easy for us. He devalued our currency so badly. I remember when you could get a 1 billion Zimbabwe dollar note – that is how bad it was. We now work on the American dollar system. Even though recently we had a change of government things are still difficult and very expensive. Inflation is so high. There are major food shortages and petrol is very scarce. Business wise all our beads and wire are imported from South Africa so this is also expensive.
How has business been for you since Covid began at the beginning of 2020?
Business has been way way too low this year many of our clients never
ordered anything this year. We have also had challenges posting things due to the cancellation of flights so even when we had orders we could not send them. We have had no help from the government and are living on our savings and hoping that things will get better and slowly return to normal. And with the very few orders we got we got we faced challenges on posting them due to the cancellations.
What are your favourite things to make?
I love to make the big animal heads for Artisans & Adventurers. It is so exciting starting with wire and then applying the beads and watching the animal come to life. I also like working on smaller items like bracelets and pendants
Tell us about your crafters.
97 per cent of the crafters I work with are men. Most of them are family
men whose lives depend mainly on the income they get from the crafts. I also work with keen school leavers. Training them is a way they can earn an income and learn a skill.
How do you see the future?
I wish there was a way Covid will come to an end so that business will at least get better in the near future. I would love to get my work to other countries where I haven’t taken it. I am just looking forward to a good future for myself and my family and kindness in the world.