Despite a negative impact on his music career because of the outbreak of the coronavirus, famous reggae music star Justice Mbedzi has not given up on life. He now sells firewood to make ends meet. Photo supplied.

Just Ice not afraid of getting his hands dirty


“Swallow your pride, stand up, and do something to generate income during this difficult time. Covid-19 has hit me hard, and I can no longer make money through my music career.”

These are the words from multi-award-winning reggae musician Justice Mbedzi of Tshipise Tsha Sagole village outside Musina, who now survives by selling firewood.

Famously known as Just Ice in music circles, Mbedzi says he used to earn good money by selling music and performing at big music gigs before Covid-19 turned his life upside down. “Before the outbreak of the coronavirus, money was flowing in and I had no problem in providing for my family. Coffers started running dry, and there was no one to assist me. Realising that I stay in the Niani area, where there is a lot of firewood, I take advantage of the abundance of this natural resource and capitalize on it.”

Mbedzi says he wakes up every morning, prepares his donkeys and donkey cart, and rides to the forest. “The most important thing is to stop worrying about what people will say about you and do what your heart tells you. I was used to my celebrity status of getting cheers on stage, but today I spend most of my time in the forest collecting firewood. This exercise needs someone who is physically fit because I use a big axe and handsaw to cut the wood from the forest. I also make sure that I load the firewood on the donkey cart in time, so that I can release my donkeys to give them enough time for grazing and drinking water,” said the 2019 overall winner of the Tshivenda Music Awards (Tshima) reggae category.

He says selling firewood is better than nothing because the market is responding well to his initiative. “I use social media platforms to sell my firewood. I get customers as far as Musina, Thohoyandou and Malamulele who need firewood during this cold season. Other people say it is better to use firewood because they save a lot of money on electricity. I also get a lot of support from hawkers who sell food on the streets and those who do fat cakes (magwinya).”

He encourages other musicians, especially those who only depend on music to survive, to start small businesses to earn some income. “Forget about your celebrity status because it will not bring you any income. Coronavirus has turned our tables upside down and it will be with us for some time. It will take long before we go back on stage and perform for money, and the best thing is to stand up and come up with plans to make money. I do not regret what I am doing now, because since I started selling firewood, I never go to bed on an empty stomach.”




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Date:26 July 2020 - By:



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