Hello, Mhoroi and Sawubona!
World is full of surprises, let us tell you that! If somebody have told us even yesterday morning, that by the afternoon, we shall stumble upon Zimbabwean fair trade market in the middle of Hereford, we would seriously thought they had too much cider on a Friday night. As strange as it may be, we have not only found the fair trade market in the same heart of the market town, but we also had the pleasure of meeting an incredible woman – Martha Musonza Holman. Martha has a resume that could easily put senior United Nations employees to shame: she is a very talented artist, mother, activist, teacher, spokeswoman and co-founder of NGO named Love Zimbabwe. Encountering people like her is truly a life changing event – only then we realize show lucky and privileged we are living in a country without war or hunger. The most amazing thing is, you won’t hear a word of complain from her! Martha is a living example that it is possible to turn every struggle and hardship into something positive.
Love Zimbabwe is a registered charity (no. 1137434) trying to help people and artists living in Harare (the capitol) and its neighbouring communities. The charity has three major goals:
– to provide a workshop for arts and craft producers and to have a place to work and teach others skills to trade,
– to establish permaculture into the way of life, creating sustainability for the community,
– to start a batik making business for a women’s group, who are mostly mothers supporting their disabled children.
To meet their targets, Love Zimbabwe Charity created a Community Interest Company (CIC). The company brings African arts and crafts to the UK and sells them to private and corporate clients. All profits are going back to Zimbabwe, helping future artists to learn a trade and supporting those who are already working. The money is also spent on providing the community with schools, clinics, running water and washing facilities. As an outcome, the artists and other villagers have steady income from selling their own goods and crafts; they learn new skills and have purpose in life – which is also very important. Love Zimbabwe Company is part of fair trade movement and works tirelessly with many international organizations to break language and cultural barriers, introducing real, more positive vision of Zimbabwe to English and European citizens.
Martha Holman and her husband David live in Abergavenny, Wales with their daughter Tananka. They are both actively promoting the partnership between Wales and Zimbabwe and often travel to Harare to bring supplies for local schools and supervise their projects to be completed on time and according to budget. Martha is also working as a teacher and motivation speaker, visiting arts and craft shows in different parts of the UK. Her work with young children (traditional dance and drumming) has been officially recognized by Wales Council for Voluntary Organisations as part of Education for Sustainable and Global Citizenship (ESDGC) program. She is also the Fair Trade Support Officer for South Wales Schools and works closely with Waterloo Foundation and Fair Trade Foundation. Since 2007, Martha is also the chef organizer of popular African Green Village at The Abergavenny Food Festival’s Fringe market and The Wakes World Trade Fair. Her events have been sponsored by the British Council, The Welsh Assembly, Fairtrade Wales, The Cooperative, Oxfam Cymru, and Unltd Wales.
Please visit Martha’s offcial website at: http://musonzaholman.com
Or her newly created Twitter account: https://twitter.com/marthmusoholm (she is still learning how to tweet!)
To book an appointment or a meeting/talk with Martha, please contact her at 07879400897 or at Martha.firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d like to know more about David and Martha’s work, please purchase David’s book “From A to Z – Abergavenny to Zimbabwe”. 50 pence from every buy is donated to the charity. You can buy it here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/From-Abergavenny-Zimbabwe-ebook/dp/B00B0YBRVG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366567932&sr=8-1&keywords=David+holman+zimbabwe+diaries
The Love Zimbabwe Spring Event opened on 15th of April in All Saint’s Church in Hereford. The Church is located right next to the main square and has been active in the city for the last 800 years! Today, except for religious services, the All Saints Church runs a popular cafe and a gallery hall that is leased for many cultural events throughout the year. We haven’t been in the city centre for a while (the horrendous weather is to blame!) and sadly, we couldn’t come to the opening of the exhibition. It is very unfortunate, as we were told; we have missed quite a party. However, if you’d like to see all the amazing artworks for yourself, you still have the chance. Martha will keep the ethnic market open till 27th of April and also has the plans to return to Hereford sometime this summer. It might be a good idea to bookmark this in your calendars. Visiting the fair trade arts and crafts show is the only opportunity to stock on very unique presents. Believe us; you haven’t seen anything like this yet!
We have spoken to Martha and her guests about certain artworks that have caught our eyes and each item at the stand had a history. We know it sounds a bit strange, but Martha could talk for hours about when and how the items were made and by whom. These are not simple stories, sometimes it was hard to hear as they were full of corruption, human tragedy, death and illness. One of the wood carvings hidden in the back of the exhibition hall had one of the saddest background tales we have heard that day: police brutally removed a group of artists trying to earn money by selling their artworks by the roadside. Some of the workers were seriously hurt and had to escape to stay alive. They were too frightened to return to their usual spot and because they could no longer sale their artworks, whole families were starving! When David and Martha arrived in Chivhu in southern Zimbabwe to buy some sculptures from the artists, they were nowhere to be found. Thanks to detective work, two hour car ride through the jungle and some local connections, the couple were able to find the tribe and re-start the trade.
In 2005, Robert Mugabe’s forces destroyed one of the biggest local markets in the capitol in an operation “Murambatsvina”. As a result, 2.5 milion of people in Mbare Township lost their homes, work places and their livehood. This disaster affected the lives of two brothers, metal artists who worked with David and Martha in the past. Because two workshops they owned were completely demolished, the brothers could no longer support themselves and their families. Martha decided to ship all saved sculptures she could to the UK and tried to sell them in an attempt to help them. The metal birds were an instant hit among the British customers and they still sell well to this day.
Please read more about the operation here:
The most fascinating items at the market were the wire and beads animals. They are being made in the village of Kotwa, where Martha once used to be a teacher. The colourful figurines look amazing in the sun as the beads are especially cut and polished to reflect the sun beams, giving the viewer an impression of a halo surrounding the figures. The buyers could choose between African animals (lions, crocodiles, giraffes and elephants) and the Europeans ones (cows, sheep, dogs). We couldn’t find a cat and we filed an official complaint with Martha. She promised to speak to the makers and have the cats ready for the summer! Puurrr-fect!
The Love Zimbabwe Spring event was not only about traditional sculptures, metal art or batika clothing. We have seen handmade postcards, music instruments, African sweets and hand made semi precious stone jewellery. The jewellery was particularly popular with ladies and younger visitors. Zimbabwean earrings and bracelets are going to be very fashionable this year in Hereford judging by the number of girls going in and out of the exhibition hall tightly holding onto their treasured catches!
It was a real quirk of fate that we discovered the Zimbabwean fair trade market in the city. We had a real good time shopping and at the same time, we were given a chance to meet a group of fantastic and dedicated people. We would like to thank Martha and David for their time and information about the items, Annie (Martha’s Friend) for a nice chat and everyone else who visited and supported the people of Zimbabwe.
Sometimes, even buying something for yourself, makes a huge different in the world.
We shall leave you with a great picture we took on Saturday – a picture that is worth a million words and that all money in the world can’t buy. It is a picture of friendship.
See you next time, world!
Rita and Mal