Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Casual Chat With a Township Artist

Mohau Ramashidja

Many people who live in South African townships are poverty stricken, without an ducation of often struggle to make ends meet. We found one man on the streets of Pretoria townships who uses wire to make something creative so he can feed himself. 34-year-old wheel chair bound, George Mongwayi, spoke to Mohau Ramashidja about his situation.

At what age did you start designing wire cars?

At the earliest age of 12, that’s when I started playing around with wires.

Who came up with the business idea amongst the two of you?

Both my partner and I came with the business idea. It was after we had both attended a workshop which encouraged us to use our hands.

Where do you get your wire material to design these cars?

From generous donors and sometimes we buy it from people.

How much wire do you use to design only one car?

When we create something out of wires we make sure that it is appealing to the eye. One item like the car you just saw can cost R500.00 worth of wire.

What is the drive of this wire business you are into?

We make sure that when we design these cars, they come out as we desire them to be. Money comes second and the beauty of the thing comes first.

What kind or models of cars do you design?

We design different kinds of cars, but most of the time we dwell too much on designing the old models; we find pleasure in bringing back the old school into 21st century.

How long can it take you to design one car?

I’ll tell you one thing, this is not child’s play; it takes us plus-minus two to three weeks, even a month to finish one car. I don’t mind coming to my workshop every day for one thing because I am a perfectionist in the work that I do.

Some people living with disabilities have given up on life and rely on government grants for survival, what makes you different?

To be disabled it does not mean it’s over with your life, accept your disability and know that it is God who is in control of your life. It is then that you will realize that life is more precious to live than to end it in one go.

Where do you see yourselves in the coming years?

It is going to take us a lot of time to get where we want to be but we will continue pushing, we can’t always wait for the government to do things for us. It is in our hands.

Why didn’t you give up on live as a person living with disability?
I want my life to be a portrayal and a sounding trumpet that will say to many people, ‘work hard and use your head’. Never underestimate your intellectual capacity and discourage your ideas. Think about your ideas carefully and implement them.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I love what South Africa has to offer in the aspect of culture and nature. Unlike other artists who focus on one culture; I tackle all cultures to symbolize a united South Africa.

What is your wildest dream you wish to accomplish in wire art business?

My dream is to design something like the Union Building. I don’t know how many years it’s going to take me but I would love to see myself having designed the building with wires.

What new things do you wish to design with wire art?

I want to design things that no man has ever thought of designing. Something like a grasshopper or an ant, even a fly,” after a short laugh he concluded, “at the end the day is art.

For more on Mohau Ramashidja visit http://www.journpursuit.blogspot.com

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