20 March 2017
A popular attraction in Pilgrim’s Rest is Edwin Zingoma crafting his exclusive and varied wire-and-bead work in the garden of one of the businesses in Uptown. Zingoma explains that his craft is completely self-taught and started as a business almost by chance as an add-on to the job he was doing previously.
He originally came to Pietermaritzburg from Zimbabwe as a designer and builder of courses for mountain bike races. He dabbled in wire work in his spare time and one day his boss asked him to make small bicycles and keyrings as trophies and hand-outs for the cycle races. He then started getting orders. “People would come with ideas which I would try out,” explains Zingoma. In this way his skills and range expanded and eventually he started selling at flea markets on weekends when he was free.
The work on mountain bike courses dwindled as they became established and Zingoma realised that he needed to move to a setting where there were more tourists. He travelled widely looking for greener pastures and chose to settle in Pilgrim’s Rest about four years ago.
“The tourists are very interested when they see you working and then they also buy more,” says Zingoma. “Many visitors have seen the wire products but are surprised that they are made by hand.”
According to Zingoma, one of the reasons he settled in Pilgrim’s Rest is that the people are so friendly.
Although he is a Zimbabwean he is accepted as a brother by the other hawkers who realise that he is bringing something unique to the village. He is very willing to teach his skills to anyone that wants to learn and has in the past given some lessons to children at a primary school in Graskop. Using Pilgrim’s Rest as a base, Zingoma also travels to various markets and festivals all over Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
Image: Edwin Zingoma with some of his wire and bead work.