Mohapi Nchako has been a craftsman for over 20 years, and he feels like his journey has only just begun. He considers himself different from other craftsmen in that he thinks totally out of the box and even endeavours to decorate that box. His business, House of Tweespruit, is a living testament to his drive to be creative and constantly come up with new ideas.
Nchako, who is based in Tweespruit in the Free State, told Vutivi News that when he started his craftsmanship in 1998, he did so on a part-time basis. However, after losing his job, he decided to throw himself into his craft full-time and roped in his wife to work with him. Nchako manufactures decorative kettles, bowls, ceramic baskets and balls, and even decorates household items like clocks and pot plants with stones and pebbles.
“I travel as far as the Eastern Cape to source the best and most colourful pebbles which I use to craft my work,” he said. Nchako said that when he started, it was difficult for him to find customers in Tweespruit, which broke his heart. “I would resort to travelling to places like Ladybrand and Botshabelo, and there my work would be greatly appreciated,” he said.
“I feel like I would have been more successful had my own community, which I grew up in and lived my whole life, endeavoured to support me in my venture. “Nevertheless, my products are extremely popular in surrounding regions,” Nchako told Vutivi News that his deep love for his craft meant that he was constantly thinking about how to be creative. “I think of how to improve my work, and how to find new ways of using pebbles to decorate my craft,” the artist said.
“One of my favourite pieces is a lantern I made using a kudu’s horn.” According to Nchako, one of his biggest dreams is to empower the youth with his skills and teach them how to be craftsmen. “I believe that by doing so, I will be able not only to equip them with a valuable skill but also contribute to reducing unemployment among the youth, which sometimes pushes them into a life of crime,” he said. “I would also like to see myself expanding to other forms of craft, such as decorating pieces of furniture like wardrobes, cupboards and even beds with pebbles.
“I do not think that I will be limited in my creativity, as I am limited by my own imagination,” he pointed out. Nchako’s dreams of a market that can accommodate craftspeople of all kinds. “I believe that our sector does not get the attention and support it deserves, and if it does, it can go a long way in representing our way of doing art.”