WATCH | Bright idea: Former homeless Zimbabwean man makes light stands from repurposed materials

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  • A former homeless Zimbabwean man handcrafts and sells light stands using repurposed materials.
  • Ziggy Goredema made his first lamp while living in Van Riebeeck Park in Cape Town, before he was moved to the Obz Rainbow House.
  • He has called his small business Deco Zambezi. 

Zimbabwean born Ziggy Goredema moved to South Africa in 2015 in search of a better life. He found a job at an electrical hardware store in Cape Town, where he developed a passion for lights.

Things were looking up. But when he couldn't secure an official work permit in time, his employer was forced to let him go. 

Goredema then pushed trolleys for Somalian shop owners to eke out a living, and when he couldn't afford to pay rent anymore, he moved to Van Riebeeck Park in Vredehoek.

"At first, I wasn't living in a tent. I was living outside just like that. I had boxes and plastic bags that I used to cover myself with," he told News24.

With ample time on his hands, Goredema made his first driftwood lamp, experimenting with a piece of wood he had found. A Vredehoek resident noticed his handiwork and wanted to know what he was doing.

"I said I want to make this into a lamp and he said he wanted to see it when I was done. I finished it, and he came to buy it, and that's when I started making lamps," Goredema said.

READ | NGOs extend a helping hand to homeless this festive season

He sold his first lamp for R600.

"I couldn't believe it. It was more motivational. I couldn't remember having R100 in my hands, for what I was doing [pushing trolleys] I couldn't earn R 100, so when he gave me six notes, I couldn't believe it," he said.

The same man gifted Goredema the tools he still uses to build his creations.

"He said it was his father's old tools, and I can make use of them, and definitely they worked amazingly; it's exactly what I was looking for," he said.

Goredema, along with other homeless people living in the park, was moved to the Obz Rainbow House in October, where he has been living since.

"I'm coming from the street right, let's not forget that I'm coming from the street, where championing an idea is totally difficult," he said. But he persevered.

If you face the world with a smiling face... I'd like to believe it will smile back to you.

One of his light stands is being sold for R1 900 in a local home decor up the road from the shelter.

"At first, I didn't think I could make something that someone would want to buy ... It makes me proud and the reception that I get when I go into the shop, I can't believe it, you know, they look at me as someone who is really into business with them," he said.

Former homeless man makes lamp stands out of recyc
Zimbabwean born and former homeless man, Ziggy Goredema, points out one of his lighting creations being sold in a local home decor shop in Observatory, Cape Town
News24 News24/Amy Gibbings

Goredema has named his small business Deco Zambezi - after the area where he comes from in Zimbabwe as it keeps him connected to his roots.

"I'm looking forward to seeing Deco Zambezi growing into greater heights. I'm nurturing it, the tender development of my idea, but I would like to believe it is more like the birth of a bull elephant, something that will grow into gigantic sizes if things happen to work the way I think they will."

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