Kartel inspires ghetto youth

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To many dancehall fanatics, Vybz Cartel 2008 smash hit Clarks is just a song that makes them want to gyrate.

BY WINSTONE ANTONIO

In the video, Vybz Cartel goes on to show off different shoe ranges that have inspired a Mbare-based craftsman to come up with a distinct shoe label that has stolen the hearts of Jah Prayzah, Killer T and Seh Calaz, among other musicians.

Taliban Clax — real name Talent Kelvin Jakachira — said he was motivated by Vybz Cartel’s lyrics which has become a source of inspiration in his life.

“When economic woes worsened around 2007 and I could not afford to buy shoes, I decided to take the challenge and try to make my own shoes getting inspiration from the Clarks video,” Taliban Clax said.

The enterprising youth has risen to the challenges of a declining Zimbabwean economy characterised by the closing of industries and few job opportunities creating new avenues of employment through craftsmanship work after being inspired by the video.

The Clarks video released in 2008 shows a range of stylish collection of footwear.

NewsDay visited Taliban Clax at his workstation in Mbare, Harare, and he chronicled his entrepreneurial journey of risk, belief and reward that started after watching Vybz Kartel’s Clarks video.

Taliban Clax said when he was growing up, his wish was to become a pilot or an engineer, but due to the economic hardships, everything failed and today he was into the business of making shoes, wallets and belts.

“After making my own pair, I realised that I was capable of scaling greater heights and many people started to ask me to make some for them. Since then I never looked back until today.”

The 28-year-old Nyazura-born youth said it was not easy at the beginning as he had to go through a string of failures to get to where he is today.

“When starting a business, one needs to have self-belief. If you don’t start, you won’t go anywhere and you have to start from somewhere that has helped me to develop my business,” Taliban Clax said.

He said his products’ long lifespan and attractive designs had seen many people, including celebrities, stampeding for them.
“With my products I make sure I give people value for money. My price for formal shoes ranges from $20 to about $80 for both men and women while sandals go for an average of $10 per pair,“ he said.
“I am also making shoes and belts for many local artistes, especially those into dancehall, among them Seh Calaz, Kinnah, Killer T, Lady Squanda and Jah Prayzah.”

Taliban Clax said at the moment, on a day he can make about five pairs, depending on the resources available.

Although Taliban Clax dreams big in an effort to expand his business to become one of the biggest shoe companies in the country, he bemoans lack of resources as the major challenge.

“I wish to expand my business, but capital is the major limitation as I strive to expand my operations. Sometimes I fail to meet the demand,” he said.

“If I get a monetary boost, my desire is to purchase machines like leather cutters, embroidering machine, grinder, heating ovens and brushing machines.”

Taliban Clax said he could not even account for how much he gets on a monthly base since the little he gets is instantly directed towards the family upkeep.

“Sometimes I fail to get material and wait for a customer to pay a deposit for me to start work,” he said.

Taliban Clax is among many young citizens who are displaying their entrepreneurial flair by crafting affordable and durable shoes from used tyres and running a backyard handmade shoe business as a way to escape unemployment in modern Zimbabwe.

He went to Chiedza Primary School in Mbare, Harare, between 1994 and 1999 before attending Harare High from 2000 to 2004 for his secondary education.

Taliban is married and has two children.

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