By Gumisai Nyoni
The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically transformed the way the world does business.
All sectors have been forced to realign, as well as refocus to stay afloat and remain competitive in their markets.
This dramatic twist to the global modus vivendi has seen Aaron Kativhu, a sculptor based in St Mary’s, Chitungwiza, who sells his artefacts locally and across the world, shifting his focus to market his products online, through establishing a website, expected to start running mid-August.
Having started his career at a tender age of 13, Kativhu described his market segment as vast in European countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Turkey, while in Asia, China is the major destination for his abstract art. Kativhu also said visitors from the United States are among major buyers of his artefacts.
The disruption of movement of tourists as a result of the marauding effects of Covid-19 led to a halt to physical interface between artists and potential buyers, who usually visit the country and buy souvenirs to take back home.
To relink and stay connected with the wider world market, Kativhu said the setting-up of a website was the most viable way he could stay in business.
“I have been in the sculpting industry for several years now and we used to rely on customers visiting places we showcase our products,” Kativhu said.
“In Zimbabwe, I sell my artefacts at Newlands, Harare, while I have also over the years managed to trade my products in South Africa.
“Tourists from Europe, the United States and China make most of our clientele base. Our revenues usually accrue from tourists who visit us from these countries. With the current situation, where movement of tourists has been halted, our business has also been negatively affected.
“To counter this setback, I realised the need to go digital and market my artefacts via a website. The world is going digital, hence I also think the pandemic has given us an opportunity to be innovative in our efforts to reach out to new frontiers, besides the already existing markets we have.”
While Zimbabwe’s economy is imploding, the sculptor maintained that art requires passion, determination and patience if one is to achieve his or her desired goals. Kativhu added that whenever he sees a solid stone, a lot of creatures come to his mind, thus he takes his time to decide on the best artefact to make at each particular time.
Currently he was polishing finished products earmarked for Belgium.
“There is need to remain steadfast in this sector. Don’t expect quick returns,” Kativhu said.
“Our business is a long-term investment, therefore whatever we do, we take into consideration that we will reap after a long journey of sweat and toiling.
“Learning this art is also gradual. I started with small artefacts such as heads, until now when I am making larger figures that can be even three metres tall.
“That understanding keeps us stronger and resilient in the face of economic hardships we face as a nation.”
Kativhu makes several products, ranging from figures, heads, miners, drum beaters, birds, warriors, abstracts, to the big five, among others. He hopes the website initiative will be a breakaway from the orthodox way of marketing products.