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Dibebe makes lemonade out of lemons

Making lemonade is pretty simple, you need water, sugar, fresh lemons and there you go, you got yourself some lemonade.

But when it comes to real life, troubles come one’s way and often finds them with no idea how to deal with them.

When undesirable situations unexpectedly come into one’s life and they have no step-by-step instructions of what to do to turn them into lemonade can be frustrating.

To turn those hardships of one’s life depends on their dedication, hard work and an unremitting devotion to the things they want to see happen to them.

Former United States of America President, Barack Obama once said focusing one’s life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition, as it asks too little of oneself because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realise your true potential.

He also observed that if you were walking down the right path and you were willing to keep walking, eventually you would make progress.

Well, this is what is happening with 62-year-old Mr Mahongo Dibebe.

Though he has never set foot in school, he chose to not succumb to the nightmare of limited job opportunities.

He has not allowed fate to have the best of him by permitting it to taint the rest of his life.

He rather chose to do some wonderful lemonade with the plenty of resources near him.

Born in Mohembo, Mr Dibebe uses the opportunity at hand to feed his children, grandchildren and himself through woodwork.

Age has never been a barrier to his 39-year-old career and talent, as a result he still crafts beautifully-decorated wooden utensils and households like wooden spoons, spoons, whisks, doors, benches, mortars, pestles, chairs and decorative crafts like mekoro, giraffes, zebras, crocodiles, mortars as well as pestles and many more.

The availability of strong and durable trees near home is an added advantage as he does not have high expenses in buying materials to get his work done.

However, for big crafts he uses Mokhwa tree known as Mouwa in Sembukushu and as for lefetlho and other slight utensils he uses moretlwa tree.

His basic woodworking tools include axes, chisels, craft knives, jointer and thickness planer, circular saw for rough dimensioning especially long rip cuts, hand saws, jigsaw for cutting curves, combination square and tape measure along with crayons, pencils for marking, a knife which helps in straight cuts, a hammer to join the pieces, and many other tools which play a key role in his beautiful woodwork.

Mr Dibebe simply immerses the timber in fire for some minutes for easy removal of bark which he later peels off and drills in different styles with different tools. A tool he calls muho in his mother tongue which is a crafted wooden piece with a sharp metal end drills holes in some crafts.

The hot metal end also decorates the crafts in diverse ways by just drawing styles as per his customers’ choice.

Just by being observant, Mr Dibebe learnt crafting from his late father at a tender age and since 1978 his experience in woodwork has taken him from one point to the next.

He says he never went for any studies to create the remarkable crafts that he produces.

The location where he works from and displays his crafts has promoted his business as it is easily accessible to customers because he is just by the Shakawe-Mohembo road, and can thus not be missed by tourists on their way to the delta.

He says Europeans are among his most loyal customers who support his work, as they always buy while some place orders and later come back for their orders.

He also carries his woodwork with him wherever he goes so as to take the business closer to potential customers, citing that his other reliable customers are in Namibia and that he often goes to the border gate to reach out to them.

Furthermore, because he is passionate about his work he does not hesitate to travel as far as Tsodilo to look for materials, especially the wood that he uses as the trees are scattered through-out the entire Okavango area.

He does not mind the long and tedious travels because he knows the strong trees found there will help him craft things that will last longer for the benefit of his customers.

However, he said business was unpredictable because sometimes one has to supply without any cash inflows.

He says in such cases an entrepreneur should never be dispirited by rather should keep crafting so as to be able to meet customers’ demand when it goes up.

Keeping at his passion even even the rough times has always helped him in future.

Meanwhile, Mr Dibebe says there is a huge demand for woodwork products in the village and that he is determined to tap into it.

His pricing is also such that it attracts customers as the products are attractively priced from as little as P15 and up to about P500 depending on a piece’ size.

To share his skill, Mr Dibebe used to volunteer and teach Ngarangi Primary School pupils before he relocated to Shakawe. Since secondary school students enroll in practical courses like Design and Technology, he says it is vital to train them at primary school level to ease things for them regarding their future studies.

Since he wants to contribute to shaping the future of children, Mr Dibebe does not mind providing free education to them as his wish is to see them being independent in future.

Looking at the fact that at his age he cannot be employed anywhere, he aims to continue the hard work to make his own factory that will absorb youngsters to carry on with the talent.

Meanwhile, he says like any venture, his business does not run smoothly on a daily basis, but that patience and dedication are the price that he pays for his success; adding that enthusiasm being the mother of all effort, he trusts that he will continue to achieve great things.

“It was not luck that made successful people be what they are rather it was good honest hard work and dedication,” he emphasised. BOPA

Source : BOPA

Author : Kesentseng Baagedi

Location : Mohembo West

Event : Interview

Date : Sep 11 Mon,2017

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