Mashava sculptors bemoan lack of market

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By Sharon Chimenya

MASHAVA stone sculptures have bemoaned the lack of a market base in the
remote mining town, resulting in others giving up.
The artists, who are based in Mashava, 40km west of Masvingo, have called
upon the Government to assist them in exhibiting their products, especially in
tourist attraction centres such as Victoria Falls.
Mashava Arts Centre Association’s Blessing Magura said the group, which has
at least 36 members that include women who make beads and others who weave
bags, said that they were selling their products to middlemen who would in turn
sell them to tourists at a higher price.
He said they were being ripped off by middlemen as they had on several
occasions tried to apply to exhibit in Victoria Falls but up to date they had not
received a favourable reply.
“We get our stones from Mashava and that’s where we do our sculpting but one
of the challenges that we have in Mashava is that we don’t have a market. Our
products are bought by middlemen and we are number three in the chain of
supplying to tourists and so we are not benefitting much in Mashava.
“We have tried going to Victoria Falls but failed to secure a place to sell our
products. We once applied in 2019 and last month went to make a follow-up so
that we get a place to sell our wares but the market is a very big challenge.”
He said they just needed space that allows them to sell their wares and to be
able to interact with the tourists as they are the major clientele base.
“We are working very hard but already some of us are quitting because one
would have carved a very beautiful sculpture only to be paid a few dollars by
middlemen, just because they have market access,” he said.
Herbert Chipiri, a member of the arts centre echoed the same sentiments and
said expos were an advantage to them as they help to network with other
people, especially those from the Ministry of Youth, Arts Sports and Recreation
who might be able to assist them in the future.

Following the opening up of international tourism after a two-year hiatus due to
the Covid-19 pandemic, the artists are hoping for increased sales from tourists.

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