“If you are determined to do something, you can make it in South Africa”

He can be found almost every afternoon on Davenport road, trying to convince commuters to purchase his metal art pieces. Like many other people, 44-year-old EPHRAIM CHIRADZA’s journey to the Durban streets was a complicated one, but he remains upbeat. He shared his story with The Daily Vox.

I lived in eastern Zimbabwe, in a town near Mutare, close to Mozambique. It is so beautiful there. Before I came to South Africa, I worked for Unilever as a purchasing officer. But the products like detergent and soap was discontinued because the costs are so high in Zimbabwe and so production moved to Malawi.

I came to South Africa in 2009 because there were just no jobs in Zimbabwe. I came here for a better life: it’s difficult to make a living there.

My family back home – my wife and child – rely on me. I send money home all the time. My wife is not working because she is at home looking after the child. My baby is three years old. The last time I was there, it was last year November.

I find it much better here, because as long as you work, you get something. In terms of jobs: you do something, you get something. I prefer to be here much more than Zimbabwe, because if you are determined to do something, you can make it. All the resources I need are here.

Maybe those who don’t make it are sitting waiting for something to happen. If you sit, you don’t get anything at all.

Look at my job: I have my own business (metalwork curios) and I make the items, market them and push the sales. No one is going to come to me and tell me: “This is how it works.” You have to do it on your own.

Maybe that’s a difference between South Africans and me.

IMG_2430I make these metal arts and crafts. I can make anything out of the metal or steel wire. I make rhinos, cows, geckos, flowers. At the moment, I can sell up to 10 of these flowers per day. Each flower sells for about R30 but really, I can make anything.

Show me a picture and I can make it for you. I once did a project for Nike. I had to make a life size torso and it was sent to Nike. They were sent to Johannesburg.

Even you could make it. All you have to be is patient.

Mostly white people buy the goods from me. Others buy also, but mostly white people. Maybe they feel for us more than others do.

I wish I could market my goods more. I want to grow my business and make it bigger. I would like to open a shop, but I don’t have the resources. I want to teach others to make these things. With this I have hired some people to help me when I receive orders. For those who are willing to work, and if they accept the conditions of work, then it can work out well. But, I notice that people who work for me are usually very desperate.

I wouldn’t want to say that South Africans are lazy. I don’t know other peoples’ capacity. I can only talk about myself.

Yes, I understand when South Africans say foreigners are taking their jobs, because there are some sectors where people are hired to take over another’s job. But in my case, for instance, I am doing my own business and trying to build an honest life.

I can’t say that I was directly affected by the violence against foreigners. I didn’t see things happen in front of me, but there were so many videos. Some people marched through the streets and said we should leave, but that is the most I had seen. But I was scared when it happened.

Even then, I am still comfortable to be here. And I have to stay to make it work. There is really nothing back home to do.

It was scary when xenophobia happened, but with time, it’s getting back to normal slowly.


If you would like to contact Ephraim to place an order for his curios, you can reach him on 083 503 8906.

If you have a story to tell, contact us and our journalists will be in touch.

– All images: By The Daily Vox.