Astonishing talent within Stutterheim
The Eastern Cape Umbrella Fire Protection Association (ECUFPA), based in Stutterheim is implementing the Forestry Support Programme (FSP) on behalf of Working on Fire (WoF) in the Eastern Cape. At the back of their offices were an unsightly container and the team decided to do something about it. The FSP embarked on a search for a casual, skilled art painter to give work opportunity to persons residing in the surrounding disadvantaged communities in Stutterheim. The requirement was to paint the FSP storage container showcasing a beautiful landscape of veld and forest fires with communities surrounding the plantations. The programme focuses on fuel reduction and fire prevention activities in plantations belonging to the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE). Zolani Sabalala, a 40-year-old male, born and raised in Stutterheim, was highly recommended as a talented and skilled painter from the Mlungisi township. Zolani Sabalala proves to be a true inspiration, working hard and a real “go getter”, regardless of his shortcomings.
At the age of 10, Zolani went playing in the fields with his brother and it changed his life forever. As they were playing, kicking, and collecting plants that’s pleases their eyes, they had unfortunately picked a poisonous plant, which his brother consumed out of curiosity. Later that day, they were both rushed to the Stutterheim Hospital and later, had to be transferred to Frere Hospital in East London to save his life Zolani’s hands had to be amputated but sadly, his brother did not make it.
Learning to adapt with the new changes, Zolani found interest in art at a tender age and he spent most of his time drawing and making sketches. After finishing Matric, he went to further his studies in Art at Border Tech in East London, where he was able to improve his art skills and learn other skills such as pottery, making sculptures and signage.
“Living with no hands limits you from a lot of things, people often think you cannot do things by yourself but I learnt to be independent and work hard at a very early stage”. Through his passion, Zolani uses his skills to put food on the table. He has created several signage boards and art paintings for schools and small coffee shops in Stutterheim.
FSP has been inspired by the determination and hard work Zolani has shown and wishes to spread the inspiration through his remarkable creativity, discipline and focus. “I’ve always loved art and enjoyed it from my primary school days’’ said Zolani.
“A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.” ~ Salvador Dali
The ECUFPA would encourage other businesses or entities to make use of the services of Zolani. Anyone that would like to use or contribute towards Zolani is welcome to contact Thinus Botha at 082 9228 637.
Source: Thinus Botha, Eastern Cape Umbrella Fire Protection Association (ECUFPA)
Written by Lilitha Tshona, DFFE Intern and assisted by Nomvume Sandi, Groen Sebenza Intern, both stationed at ECUFPA