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Immersed in art and environment

Written by  Chimwemwe Njoloma
Some of Chabwera's unfinished sculpture. -Pic by Chimwemwe Njoloma. Some of Chabwera's unfinished sculpture. -Pic by Chimwemwe Njoloma.

Lilongwe, March 14: When an opportunity to attain tertiary education at any institution of higher learning eluded him, 47-year-old Julius Chabwera opted for vocational education.

It was not much of a desperate move though. The young man already had passion for artisan work right from his primary school days.

He recalls how his parents used to encourage him to continue nurturing his artistic skills.

“They always told to develop my skills to perfection because they may become handy in my life," Chabwera said.

Now, the man from Chabwera Village, Traditional Authority (TA) Mabuka in Mulanje is an established woodcarver.

“I got myself into sculpture which involved curving of different animal images which focused on wildlife’s big five and some images depicting ancient people,” he said.

The big five he is referring to is the elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo and leopard.

Chabwera traces the acquisition of his skills in sculpturing to Komboni Mission Technical College in Lunzu, Blantyre.

“After my secondary education, I went to look for employment at Gambula Parish. There, I met a priest who advised me to enroll with the technical college,” he said.

His training at Komboni under the department of joinery equipped him with handcraft skills specifically in curving and sculpture.

For ten years now, Chabwera is a well-established and prominent sculptor in Lilongwe with his own business entity that seven assistants as its employees.

Owing to his artistry, Chabwera has won hearts of many customers both local and international and he boasts to have a wide range of customers.

“My customers include Afro-oriental Investment in Area 6, ltalian Restaurant, and Trinidad in Lilongwe."

“I earn a lot of money and I am able to support at least 3 needy students in both secondary and University from this business.

I have also made huge investments in estate property,” Chabwera said.

Since the business relies on raw materials like trees from the environment, Chabwera has adopted a green friendly model to the business and that is of giving back to nature by planting trees.

“I am aware of threats towards the environment. This is why I have made huge investment in afforestation. I own a 10-hectare forest reserve at Chiputu near Dzalanyama in Lilongwe.

“l plant 100 trees every year to combat deforestation and mitigate the impact of environmental degradation. My forest reserve has since been spared for indigenous trees only,” he said.

Apart from owning the forest reserve, Chabwera has also purchased land at Kandiani Dam, which is located between Chitedze Research Station and Mpingu in Lilongwe Rural west.

At this dam, he intends to construct a guest house in order to boost the tourism industry in the country targeting those that visit to buy his products.

A father of two, Chabwera said he is passing his love for nature to his children Benjamin and Esther.

“They have also developed this interest towards nature and they help me plant trees now and again in the forest.”  

Chabwera said he would want to plant more trees this year but also employ three more assistants since his business is fast growing.

He encourages people across the country to plant trees in those depleted areas and conserve the forests.

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