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Female sculptor gets breakthrough

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Labouring in the fields was the best job that Kamurai Kavhu felt she could do as she toiled at a tobacco farm in Guruve.

For many years she was content with waking up before sunrise to do her household chores before joining the daily trudge to the vast fields to get her portion of a day’s work.

She did all the hard work in the fields and was always happy when payday came. Her income covered the basic needs and she would complement it by selling some wares at nearby farms and villages when there was less work in the fields.

That was before she met Alice Musareva at Tengenenge Arts Community as she who was one of her customers.

“Alice was a sculptor here and she used to buy some clothes that I sold. One day she told me how lucrative sculpture is and challenged me to try it,” recalled Kavhu.

“She gave me a small stone and told me to go and carve something out of it. I took it to our farm and told my father that I was thinking of becoming a sculptor. He gave me the go-ahead and that was how I began stone-carving.”

She remembers how she would borrow tools from Gift Chengu and Lazarus Gwasha who were established sculptors.

But it was not easy to make an impact in an arts sector that already had established artists.

“It was not easy at all. The first five pieces I brought to Tengenenge for sale were not bought. The same happened with my second batch and I almost gave up. It was through encouragement from experienced sculptors that I managed to soldier on. My luck came with the third attempt when someone appreciated my pieces and I got my first buyer.”

Gradually, she began to build a good client base, but she still worked from the farm. She would use her spare time to work on sculpture and art became the source of extra income.

With the coming of the chaotic land grab exercise at the turn of the millennium, Kavhu and her fellow farm workers were displaced and she decided to settle at Tengenenge for good.

It was not difficult to fit into this art community because of she had already made commendable progress as a part-time artist.

“Most of my fellow farm workers went to settle in villages where they are struggling to make ends meet, but for me sculpture was a blessing because I now earn far much more than I did at the farm. I had not realised that I would be able to make so much income from sculpture, otherwise I would have left the farm far earlier than I did.”

Kavhu is now one of the most recognised female sculptors at Tengenenge. Her daily chores now involve doing household work early in the morning and then joining her husband at their workshop where they sculpt daily.

Kavhu says they complement each other in an interesting way and stones have become an important source of livelihood for their family.

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