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Sand artist Nkabinde makes a mark in tourism sector

from NTOMBIFUTHI MBHELE in Durban
DURBAN – LOSING parents at a young age, dropping out of school before matric and being condemned to helplessness could spell the end of the world to many.

Not Bongani Nkabinde (28).

He has overcome all these odds and is using his artistry and entrepreneurial spirit to turn his life around.

Originally from Ermelo in Mpumalanga, he is now based in Durban, KwaZulu Natal (KZN) where he is making the most of the opportunities the tourism industry offers.
Nkabinde is a seashore sand artist.

“My parents died when I was still young and life was not good as the family was not treating me well,” he recalled in an interview with CAJ News Africa.

The family problems culminated in him dropping out of school in Grade 8.

“I was forced to drop school and started to be a man at a young age, to be able to feed myself,” Nkabinde said.

He came to Durban in 2016 with the hope of finding a job.

However, without an educational qualification, and the rising unemployment in South Africa, he could not get employment.

Nkabinde recalls living in the streets as a result.

“Life was very difficult. I am thankful that I didn’t get into drugs after ten months of struggling.”

His fortunes changed when he met some Mozambicans (foreigners) in the city.

“They taught me art,” said Nkabinde.

“They told me that I can put food on the table using my hands, without going to work for someone else,” he said.

He decided to put the skills learnt into practice at the Durban Beach front.

Nkabinde creates different portraits with ocean sand.

He buys red sand in the market to decorate his wares.

“It takes about four hours to do one thing,” he said.

“We write different things on it, like ‘Welcome to Durban’, ‘Happy Birthday’ among others.”

He said carving a picture with a client’s name costs R40. Nkabinde charges R10 if client takes pictures of his work.

Nkabinde said business peaks during iconic events in Durban, as was the case last week when it hosted the Comrades Marathon, which returned after a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During the events like Comrades Marathon and the Durban July, among other international sporting events that bring tourists to the city, I make a lot of money,” he said.

– CAJ News

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