Thembekile is a stone artist of modern times

2016-11-09 06:01
Stone artist Thembekile Ntshiza (35) of Missionvale shows off his work.  Photo: NCEBA DLADLA

Stone artist Thembekile Ntshiza (35) of Missionvale shows off his work. Photo: NCEBA DLADLA

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THEMBEKILE Ntshiza (35) of Missionvale in Port Elizabeth is a man with immense talent.

Born in Hankey in the Sundays River Valley local municipality, stone artist Ntshiza boasts of having carved portraits of all Nelson Mandela Bay mayors in the democratic dispensation, from Nceba Faku, Nondumiso Maphazi and Zanoxolo Wayile to Oom Ben Fihla.

“I am completing the carving of current mayor Athol Trollip,” said Ntshiza proudly, adding that he had already communicated with the office of the first citizen of the metro about his creation and intention to honour him.

An unmarried father of four, Ntshiza, who idolises American television star and talk show host Oprah Winfrey, is also completing her portrait and hoping it will coincide with her 25-year celebration of The Oprah Winfrey Show, which he enjoyed watching growing up.

He believes a plan will surely be made for the American to finally lay her hands on the carving.

This is all thanks to the art Ntshiza discovered four years ago when he lost his job as a labourer at a construction company in Hankey. Without qualifications, Ntshiza found himself joining the long queue of the unemployed and unable to fend for himself and his dependants.

He knew he had to do something, but crime was not an option.

A dream showed him a particular stone found in the streets of Hankey and Ntshiza went to fetch it because “something within me said there was something tangible I could do with the stone,” he reminisced.

Of course, Ntshiza was good at art at Vukani High School, where he did Grade 8 (then Standard Six).

“Other children would ask me to make drawings for them and I enjoyed it, especially when they paid me for it,” he said.

Now Ntshiza uses his hands to make carvings of important people, including those from institutions like Volkswagen South Africa, BMI, SABC, Moss Plant Hire and Baytv among others, especially when they celebrate milestones like anniversaries.

While talking to Express, he was paging through one of the previous editions, saying: “I’ll be phoning these companies to suggest to them that I assist in their celebration of their anniversaries.

“I’ll make them stones to keep and remember their big days with. This is what I do for a living.”

He said, “These stones fall from the mountains onto the road, and I collect them and carve anything I want from them. I then use shoe polish to make them shine.”


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