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Taurai Ralph Mlambo grew up in Honde Valley in Zimbabwe. His father taught him how to sculpt, and now he carves with his two younger brothers, Tichaona and Elton. It is fitting that their favorite carving is the “ukama,” which means “family” in the Shona language.
The Shona pieces are created out of serpentine stone which ranges in color from brown and caramel to black and green. Due to this natural variance in stone color, and the creativity of the artists, each piece is completely unique.
To create the pieces, the brothers first go to the bush to search for the most beautiful stones. They chip, chisel, sand and wet sand each sculpture using simple hand tools. When the piece is fully formed, they warm it by a fire before coating it with floor wax which brings out all of the natural colors of the stone.
Zimbabwe’s political situation has made it difficult for many of its citizens to survive. The unemployment rate in 2009 was 95%, the average life expectancy 47, and 68% of the population lives below the poverty line. Selling sculptures has allowed Taurai to provide for his wife Constance and son Emanuel.
Brought to you by Fair Trade Federation.