When he was young, game reserves like the Kruger National Park fascinated him.
As a 10-year-old, he had a lot of questions about who owns them and how. But he also had aspirations to one day have a park of his own.
He started creating his dream space in his backyard.
Dzulani Sidogi tells us that at first, he was only decorating his yard to make it look like how he envisioned it in his future plans but residents couldn’t stop gushing over it – some wanted to take pictures of the artwork they saw in his yard.
“It was very beautiful, they loved it, but the idea of a park was there as I was busy decorating and creating sculptures,” Dzulani tells Drum.
He says it all started very small. “But when I heard people in my community telling me that the place is very beautiful, that encouraged me to extend the idea and make it big.”
The 34-year-old from Tshipako village outside Thohoyandou tells us that he started building his park in his own yard in 2019. He says he uses unique materials for his park which makes it different and gives visitors a touch of nostalgia.
“The way I shape my flowers, the lawn and how I design the stones really makes it unique. I go to the mountain to fetch wood and collect some stones for it. I also create my own animal sculptures using cement,” he tells us.
Dzulani named his park DZULIEco, he says this is the combination of his name with the ‘co’ for the ecosystem.
“This is mainly because I do things that are related to ecology, in fact this park represents a museum, so I am willing to create a lot of things.”
To the delight of the Tshipako village residents, he opened it up to residents for a very small fee. It's R20 for adults and R10 for kids.
He says they get to play, take pictures, relax as they enjoy beautiful scenery. “Others host birthday parties here and photographers also get a chance to do their business.”
“I used to love drawing animals from the zoo and places for travelling while I was at school at the age of 10. I used to go to Kruger National Park during school trips so that is why I couldn’t stop thinking about having the same thing for myself in the future.”
The greatest challenge for him is the fact that he has to travel long distances to fetch water for drinking as well as creating the sculptures.
“I stay in the rural area and we don’t have water, we have to get water from the stream which is very far from where I stay, and without water I can’t do anything because I am planning to build small pools for kids to swim.
“I just wish there could be someone, especially a businessman, who wouldn’t mind helping out with a borehole, because when residents come here they also need refreshments and to stay hydrated, it is hot. It will also help residents around here so that they don’t have to travel to the stream with buckets to fetch water anymore.”