To get there, take the tar road north of Letaba or south of Tsendze until you come to the H15 that goes east towards the Giriyondo border gate into Mozambique. About 10km along this road you’ll come to a welcome picnic site where you can stop for breakfast or a snack or simply to stretch your legs. Shaded by apple-leaf and fever trees, it also serves as the tiny art gallery I mentioned.
The charming and friendly Joseph Ngwenya (pictured) and Lombard Khoza are the men who look after the picnic site.
‘One day,’ the enterprising and talented Joseph tells us, ‘when all my work was done, I was looking for something to do.’ So he started fiddling about with some old cold drink cans and his knife. And so the tiny ‘gallery’ was born.
Joseph’s speciality is turning the cans into vases of flowers, carefully cutting strips of aluminium to make the stems that remain attached to the base, then pleating shrink-wrap to form multi-coloured flowers.
They’re on display at the thatched hut where you can hire a skottel and – in a clever move worthy of any big-city marketer – even the immaculate ladies loo has its own long-life bouquet of shrink-wrap flowers, bound to make you notice.
Lombard’s art is practical rather than merely decorative. In two neat rows, he cuts intricate slits into the cans, some bulging inward and others outward, to form decorative candlestick holders – a fun addition to your braai table.
A look at the two men’s fingers shows that their creativity is not without its price. They deserve encouragement for both their creativity and their entrepreneurial spirit. Go on, buy one. They only cost around R20 or R25 and they’re ‘Makhadzi originals’.
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