When you look at wood that is not a finished product, what do you see? You certainly do not grasp that it can be turned into beautiful furniture. It is at that moment when Pule Moshugi’s artistic instincts kick in. For Moshugi, wood is a useful natural material that needs to be shaped and carved into furniture that will make him and his family money. “I work with wood, but I’m actually an artist. I draw. I am good at drawing,” Moshugi said at his workstation in Mabule, Bloemfontein.
In 2019 he decided to use some of his children’s social security money to start his business, and he has not looked back. “I bought some of the essential equipment to start and then I did it. I used to work with someone who was doing carpentry, and then sometime later I decided to start working for myself, so that’s where I picked up my skills from,” he said.
Moshugi chose carpentry because he loves it. Although he provides services for individuals, his biggest clientele is taverns and events. However, he has noticed that the business picks up during certain seasons. “I can make a living from it, it does help me, but sometimes it is slow, like now in winter. It’s not like summer.” It is during these slow months that Moshugi supplements his earnings by reverting to his artistic roots.
“I also draw and paint portraits. So, I try to sell those as well,” Moshugi said, while showing a few drawings that he plans on selling next. While he admits that it does get difficult and at times it is not easy, he finds it fulfilling to make a living from working with his hands. His focus now is to buy other tools from the proceeds, which will make woodcutting less laborious.
“There is the equipment I still need to buy in order to cut certain wood faster and easier,” he said. However, he laments the low number of people he sees working for themselves by using their hands. “The way I see it, the number is less. I think it’s due to drugs. Most of the youth are concentrated on drugs; they’re not more on such things as carpentry,” Moshugi said. “There are colleges where they can learn to create things with their hands, or they can learn from people like me.”