The beauty of Africa is literally everywhere. And in some ways it’s tragic because when we start to look beneath all this beauty, we start uncovering a common African theme of struggle, hardship and poverty that nobody should be subjected to.
Today we feature that vibrant South African creativity, and it’s not found on the serene beaches or the awe-inspiring Highveld. No, this beauty is right under our noses, in the streets of Melville. And this artists name is Sam Muzumbi.
Original image taken from the Northcliff Melville Times
Sam is a street vendor. Originally from Zimbabwe, Sam left his home country in order to make a better life for himself.
But as is often the case in Africa, Sam has been made to survive on the streets selling different crafts in order to make a living. You can find Sam on the corner of 7th Street Melville, Johannesburg.
We’ve decided to feature Sam on our website because of his ingenuity and craftsmanship. You see, Sam upcycles tyres and converts them into shoes.
The shoes are handmade from leather. And the tyre is used for the soles. The result, a comfortable feel and solid grip. It usually takes Sam a full day to make one pair of these shoes, and it’s noticeable that extreme care and attention to detail goes into each and every pair.
Sam has been selling these shoes for 9 years now after learning the skill from his brother.
From focusing entirely on his shoe craft, Sam has since expanded his offerings to include, hats, bags and paintings. Looking at his other wares, you can see that Sam has an artistic flair and is truly gifted.
One can’t help but wonder what could have been for Sam if he had the same opportunities that most of us take for granted.
It’s so sad because Sam has slowly reduced the number of paintings he produces because people simply aren’t buying enough. And as a street vendor we is in need of these sales just to survive, his painting has to take a backseat while we focuses on more profitable crafts.
But throughout all the hardships of being on the street, Sam maintains his positive outlook on life and reiterates that he loves what he does.
As Africans, it’s our responsibility to get out of our homes and support these true artists. Not only because they deserve our support, but because these naturally gifted craftsmen are one of the many hidden gems of Africa. And there work leaves an imprint in our African souls.