I started working while I was still at school because my older brother had a company called Bedu which did welding. I worked with him in Bosija whenever I could and we had a lot of Botswana Government contracts when I finished school. In fact, he relied on those and when they stopped there was no more money for me. I went up to Etsa 6 and did odd jobs there, I was even a teacher for a while but I did not have qualifications in that. My skills and experience are in fabrication and welding, this is what I know I do best.
So when I came back to Maun I took any welding job I could. I was staying with people in my age group and I was thinking ‘what can I do – I have no money and we must eat’. I was busy working for people, saving a few thebe here and a few thebe there. Then when I could a bought machines with what I had earned. I bought a second hand grinder, a welding machine and a drill. That meant I could start working by myself in an area just behind Sefalana. It was quiet there and people didn’t find me like they do now. I have moved my welding business many places but this is the best, I am on the road next to the framing shop in Bosija and I will stay here.
I started back at the start of my own business by making burglar bars and silencers. Then as I worked more and my knowledge grew I could do palisades on walls and big sliding doors on my own. Even furniture, now I can make metal chairs and tables – I would like to do more of this. I have been asked to make lantern hooks, wardrobes, all sorts of things. As soon as I make things I sell them on, that is why you only see metal pieces around here. I keep all the extra bits of metal that people give me or that are left over from jobs. You never know what will be useful.
When I am making something I start with the design of what it should look like in my head. Then I look at what I will make it with. The shape and size of the base item dicates the design. This is because I like to be able to see where an item has come from. You do not need to change every thing about a metal object to get to what you need… you have to be smart and stop and think about it. That is one side of what I do – fabrication. Mostly it is the welding though that I enjoy. Welding is like problem solving, I can tell you straight away if what you ask me to do is possible or not. I can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ with confidence. You look and see how something can join, and where, and if will it work. It is simple. Not like being a mechanic… a mechanic must pull the car apart to see the problem and then tell you if they can help you or not. Not me, in welding I just know.
At the moment I am making this feeding trough, also this cattle brand you see here. I even just made a big trailer for the council. I think that now that the water is getting less in the coming months I will be making more jojo stands for people to keep their water tanks.
Advice I would give to young fabricators and welders is that you must accept all jobs. You will learn more and people will become interested in you. Show what you can do and you will make a living from what you enjoy.
Welding is like problem solving, I can tell you straight away if what you ask me to do is possible or not.