Mathilda Avhashoni Mamatseane displays her wooden crafts at her home in Gondeni village. Photo supplied.
Mathilda Avhashoni Mamatseane once had a comfortable job at one of South Africa’s top banks. Then Covid-19 hit the world, and many jobs were shed. She, too, became one of the casualties. Faced with an uncertain future characterised by abject poverty and boredom, the 34-year-old resident from Gondeni la Mabilu, outside Thohoyandou, who suffers from a lame leg, could not bear it. To counter this, she took up woodcraft as a hobby, and today, she owns her own woodcraft company called Mathilda Mamatseane Creations.
Working from home, Mamatseane skilfully makes furniture such as dining tables, coffee tables, side tables, decorative and cultural ornaments, and kitchen utensils such as spoons (lufo), trays, bowls (ndilo), and many other useful items — all made from natural wood.
Asked how it had all started, Mamatseane confessed that disappointment had defined her destiny. “I am a varsity graduate, having studied at the University of Johannesburg where I acquired my national diploma in human resource management, a B-Tech in human resource management, and a postgraduate diploma (PGDip) in labour law. Despite all these qualifications, finding a job has been a daunting task for me. I had a stint at Nedbank’s head office but lost the job due to Covid. I tried everything, but to no avail. So, to chase the wolf out of the house, I started this project,” she said.
But starting her own woodcraft business has not been smooth sailing either. Mamatseane says acquiring the materials she wants to use is not easy. The wood she must collect from the mountains, and for this, she needs transportation and specialised tools. “There are many challenges regarding my work, considering my inability to access materials myself due to my bad leg. I would like to have proper machinery to work with to improve my work and manufacture my products on time and make progress. But I am happy to be able to do what I do today. It gives me great pleasure to make beautiful things for others. Being disabled, I could have given up, but I didn’t, which only shows that, with a little determination and the willingness, it is possible to make it,” she said.
Date:03 December 2023
Elmon Tshikhudo started off as a photographer. He developed an interest in writing and started submitting articles to local as well as national publications. He became part of the Limpopo Mirror family in 2005 and was a permanent part of the news team until 2019.