WHILE growing up in Mpumalanga near Nelspruit, Themba Mabena had nothing. But his passion for sculpture has seen him through and his business is doing well.Themba (31) started working for a local artist and selling his work when he was only 15. His art is the reason he is able to provide for his two children and extended family members. Today, local people are his trusted clients but people from overseas also buy his work.He said it took time to become a respected sculptor. In the beginning he only made small sculptures, using wood only.“I had to leave my home town while I was still young to sell my art,” he said.Themba, who has been his own boss for 10 years, said he teamed up with Angel Tembo (42) and moved to the Free State. After living in various places in the Free State they settled in Botshabelo. They use olive trees that they buy from the farms to create their sculptures. “I make all kinds of sculptures of animals using my hands,” he said. “It takes up to four weeks to complete a lion, which is the same size as a real lion.”The price of the big sculptures startsat R20 000 depending on the model, but their clients don’t complain. Instead, they get more orders from happy clients. Themba and Angel display their work on the main roads of Bloemfontein. “We attract a lot of people who like art,” he said.They also make furniture. “We buy the equipment we need so that we can teach youth and create jobs for them,” he said.
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