Making ends meet
Driven by unemployment and limited education in an academically demanding job market, 21-year-old Otshepheng Phemelo Sebetwane took a drastic decision to be hands-on and invest his time in carpentry.
With lessons learnt from his father- Sondano Sebetwane, the talented and youthful craftsman has managed to craft various home utensils and items to sell and earn a living .
Operating from his homestead in Morepo Ward in Thamaga, Sebetwane specializes in creating traditional chairs, pounding mortar and pestle, walking sticks, wooden spoons, calabash, drums, dishes, smoking pipe, sugar pots and milking cans, among others. With price ranges of P60-950 for his products, Sebetwane’s business started back in 2019 .
“I acquired the knowledge of working with wood and carpentry from my father who had been doing this craft since 1986. He also inherited it from his older brother, so it has been passed to generations within the family. My father did this because he was not working and didn’t have any chance to go to school but for me it was because I failed to progress further academically, so I took carpentry as a way to earn a living,” said Sebetwane who went as far as Junior Certificate(JC) in his academic journey.
Using hard tree barks such as morula, morukuru, morolwana, motlopi, mopipi, moga, mophane, mogonono, mosetlha, motswere, morala and moretlwa to carve out his products Sebetwane says while this is primarily done to earn a living it was also part of embracing his culture.
“Sometimes sales are low and nothing at all but on a good day we do experience high sales. That is how haphazard the business is like. I sell my products at home but I also use social media to advertise, “he said.
Having grown up under the watchful eyes of his father, that made the young Sebetwane to love the craft of carpentry though it is not common among the youth.
“My father is very helpful and supportive because he helps me with getting raw materials as well as to craft some of the items. One problem I have is that I don’t have a car to use to collect my supplies and raw materials as well as to transport my products when I want to sell out of Thamaga,” shared Sebetwane highlighting his wish to see the business growing and creating jobs for many youths.