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SitunduÔÇÖs wooden life

by Sibangani Dube



Sebastian Situndu from Kavango Region had a happy childhood until his mother died when he was 15.
His educational prospects suffered a severe blow since his stepmother could not pay his school fees and he dropped out of school.

He then worked in his father’s carpentry shop where he learnt the trade.
Today at 33, Sebastian is a master cerpenter who runs his own business in Windhoek.

Together with other craftsmen from his region, Sebastian operates from an open land close to Windhoek Truck Port.
“Business is moving very well here we have many customers from all walks of life. We have lots of orders for tables, chairs and Otjiherero wedding boxes,” he says.

He came to Windhoek where his business spread north, to Okahandja and Windhoek and had customers from South Africa.
It was the demand for his Otjiherero or Ovambanderu Wedding Box which prompted him to relocate from the Kavango Region.

“A client asked his agent who had made such a box and the rest as they say is history,” he says with a deep sense of satisfaction.

His products are unique because he uses the African Tea or Kiaat which is easy to work by hand.  This wood allows him to design tables, doors and chairs with the ‘big-five’ which clients, especially tourists, fall for.

“Shops can beat us on the quality of their products but when it comes to durability we are the leaders,” he says.
Sebastian gets the wood he uses from Kavango entrepreneurs.   

He says demand for carpentry products will always be there for life.
A table with a set of 8 chairs costs between N$5000 and N$8000 depending on the design.

The woodcarvers face some serious challenges especially from weather elements despite booming business.

“When it rains, we stop working and our products are at the mercy of the sun and the rains. I wish we could have a place we call our own, a place we can safely lock in our goods after we knock off.”

Security is not an issue as there are people who sleep in their tents on the premises.
To meet his electrical needs to power his machines Sebastian bought a generator which he uses to perform some fine work.  
On the key to success in this industry Sebastian says, ‘To survive in this industry the key lie in producing quality products this guarantees you a stable clientele base.’