Botswana: Wheelbarrow Maker Typifies Best in Batswana

Lotlhakane East — Kanye South MP Dr Lemogang Kwape has described uncommonly talented Mr Benjamin Sibanda, who has mastered the art of turning trash into treasure, as representing the best in Batswana.

Dr Kwape, also Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation, visited Mr Sibanda, who manufactures hand-made wheelbarrows out of scrap metal usually given to him by friends for free, at Ga-Mae Ward in Lotlhakane East on January 23.

Speaking to BOPA in an interview during the visit, Dr Kwape said Mr Sibanda's business model told an alluring story of innovation in the midst of a pandemic.

He described Mr Sibanda as a living testimony that hard times indeed bred tough men.

"Sometimes these bad things like COVID-19 happen to bring the best out of ourselves," he said.

He encouraged Mr Sibanda, who has so far produced 34 units since he started last year, to set his ambitions high, think long-term, brand his products and start producing on a commercial scale and create himself a niche in the market.

Dr Kwape thanked the manufacturer's daughter Lesego Chere for taking advantage of technology to advertise her father's products on social media networks.

He said the purpose of the visit was to extend his support and goodwill to Mr Sibanda.

Explaining how the idea of wheelbarrow making occurred to him, Mr Sibanda who is a mechanic, builder, carpenter, welder and painter rolled into one, said it all started with a compulsion to do something to fill in the time during last year's lockdown.

Stuck at home with nothing to do, he decided to repair his own rickety wheelbarrow that he had always meant to mend but could not quite create the time due to his ever busy work schedule.

Repair it he did, and one neighbour immediately bought it while another brought his for repair.

This, he said, triggered the idea and set him on the path to repair and manufacture wheelbarrows for a buck.

The "Original Mozezuru" as Mr Sibanda calls himself, said he planned to create his own wheelbarrow frames.

"I already have the frame in my mind's eye, only have to lay it down", he said.

Mr Sibanda who had been doing vocational jobs man and boy, largely attributed his success in life to the lessons his late father vouchsafed him.

He said the lessons of hardwork learnt many moons ago were suddenly exploding into creative energy.

His plans include creating durable products catering for different income groups and engaging someone to do spray painting rather than doing it all by himself manually.

He thanked Dr Kwape for the visit saying it heralded good things for his business.

Source : BOPA

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