Carving a living

26 June 2019 | Local News

A 44-year-old man, who has been a wood-carver for most of his life, says this is the only way he can take care of his family.

Ewi lyaNooli came across David Ngoma recently, who said he has been carving wood since 1992, in a bid to sustain his family.

Ngoma is from Mbeyo village in the Ncamagoro constituency of Kavango West.

He markets his products along the Rundu-Mururani B8 road, where travellers sometimes stop to buy.

Ngoma lives with his wife and seven children. They survive because of his wood-carving business.

He has never had formal employment.

Ngoma carves various traditional items including toys and decorative art pieces at an affordable price.

He explained that his passion for wood carving was instilled in him by his father when he was 18 years old.

“My father is the one that taught me how to do this and since then I developed a passion for it. It is the way I have survived for the past 27 years,” Ngoma said.

When asked how business is doing, Ngoma said it is not going well.

He is contemplating going to Okahandja or Windhoek to sell his products.

“My brother, to be honest with you, business is not going well for me. I am thinking of going to Okahandja where there is a better market; but at the same time if I am gone, who will provide for my family? My wife is unemployed and I don't want them to suffer while I am gone,” Ngoma said.

He said business was booming during the 1990s, adding that South Africans who used to live in and visit Kavango were his biggest customers.

He therefore decided to travel to Upington in 2001 to sell his products.

“If you talk of the years 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996, those were the years when I used to sell, but now things have changed,” Ngoma said.

He said although international tourists show an interest and appreciate his work, they only buy small items, while making reference to the charges they have to pay at the airport.

Ngoma also spoke about the impact of the drought on his family, saying they have not managed to harvest anything from their mahangu field.

“We got nothing from our mahangu field this year and my family now only looks to the wood carving business,” he said.

Ngoma said his biggest challenge is the lack of customers, saying Namibians should develop a culture of supporting each other's businesses.

He is of the view that if people support each other, the economy will improve.

“We must support each other's businesses in Namibia. When people talk about the unemployment rate being high in the country, there are those who blame government for not doing something, but when we the unemployed come up with ways to survive, we don't give them support,” he said.

“Let us support one another, let us support local products.”

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