Grade 1 dropout now a skilled artisan

29 March 2017 | Business

A 29-year-old man from Masivi village in the Kavango West Region who dropped out of school in grade one has transformed his life over the years and now is a skilled artisan who sells his crafts at the Rundu Open Market.

Ewi lyaNooli met Paulus Siyambe at the Rundu Open Market this month where he shared his life story.

Siyambe is a father of three and takes care of his family with the little he earns from selling his woodcarvings.

He said after dropping out of school in the first grade he had to stay home and take care of the family's livestock.

“After dropping out of school in grade one I had to go look after our cattle and goats, as herding was part of my household duties and responsibilities growing up as a young boy at Masivi,” Siyambe said.

Asked why he had dropped out of school, he said he just did not feel like going to school anymore.

Siyambe said as the years passed he realised that the world had changed and people had to work for money in order to buy food.

The desire to earn an income prompted him to start collecting wood from the forest and making woodcarvings.

At the beginning it was hard because he never had a formal education, but with practice he managed to get it right.

“It was not easy as I went through a lot and now I am proud that I make things which people buy, even if it's not every day but it's a great feeling to see people buy from my stand,” he said.

Siyambe has been an artisan for the past eight years and has been selling his carvings at the Rundu Open Market for the past six years.

The items for sale are mainly wooden kitchen utensils and decorative pieces.

Siyambe said on a good day he makes about N$100, which is not enough for his family but it is better than nothing

On an average day he has to be satisfied with N$30 or N$50, which he mostly uses for transport.

“I have been here for a number of years and business has not been that good but I will not give up because the little I make helps me to feed my family,” Siyambe said.

Business was good this month because the 27th Independence Day anniversary was celebrated at Rundu.

“I wish Independence Day celebrations lasted for a week so that the people could support us more,” he said jokingly.

Many woodcarvers sell their products at the open market, and the competition makes it hard for them to earn a decent income.