If you spend some minutes watching Frank Mumba working on a piece of timber, you will realise that carpentry is an art.
The young man from Munika Village Traditional Authority Chikho in Ntchisi is a mastercarft.
The 22-year-old holds the plane in his right hands and rolls it over a rough plank—producing peels that fall gently on the ground—amid the hissing sound of the plane.
As perspiration shines on his forehead, the talented artisan peeps obliquely at the piece of wood he is working on, as if to find fault with it. His eyes fall on some bumpy surface on the plank. Immediately, he lets the instrument plough the pimples flat.
However, Nkhoma attributes this to a project called Youth In Action (YIA) that Creative Centre for Community Mobilisation (CRECCOM) implemented in the area.
CRECCOM implemented the project with funding from MasterCard Foundation (Canada) through Save the Children between 2012 and 2017 in T/As Chilooko, Malenga, Chikho, Nthondo and Kasakura in the district.
The programme was expected to reach 39 850 direct beneficiaries over six years. By March 2018 the programme had reached 43 792 youths in 5 countries namely Malawi, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia and Uganda . From this figure, 40 593 youths completed the learning phase and 36 314 youths graduated from the full programme .In Malawi the project targeted four districts including Mchinji, Kasungu, Ntchisi and Rumphi.
He says he joined YIA in 2015. After three weeks of undergoing theory lessons, Nkhoma chose to learn carpentry and joinery.
The Standard Eight dropout had always wanted to become an artisan.
Nkhoma recalls: “So, I went to Mikolongwe Vocational Training College in Chiradzulu where I studied carpentry and joinery for four months.
“That was in 2016. On October 20 2016 I got my certificate.”
When he returned home, the father of one received starter-up tools from Save the Children—a saw, plane, hammer, tape measure, tri-square and clamper.
Immediately, Nkhoma established himself as the people’s favourite.
That is why on June 6 2021 we found him working in Nyaya Village in the area.
A certain man who was building a house invited him to make window and door frames for his house. So, Nkhoma had temporarily migrated to this village because there was much work to do.
But through carpentry and joinery, Nkhoma started other small-scale businesses to maximise his income.
He invested in farming. He is optimistic of getting a bumper harvest, which he will sell some.
“Importantly, I am able to support my family. I have built a house and I am looking forward to achieving more,” says the young man, as he measures a log.
It was noon when we finally left the artisan, still playing around with pieces of wood to produce masterpieces.
CRECCOM paid artisans to teach young men who wanted to do carpentry and joinery. One of them is
Paul James who has a shop called Mwayi Suphonya Mwini near Kayuwi Primary School in the area.
He opened the shop in 2012 after graduating from Evangelical Lutheran in Kasungu.
In 2015 CRECCOM asked him to train some five young men in carpentry and joinery.
“They became my apprentices. Four succeeded and one failed. The contract was for three months. But it was enough as they had acquired the basic artisanal skills,” he says.
However, after the training, Rabson Chimangni opened his shop at Kambadzo but another, Zechariah Yembekezani, decided to stay.
Yet, James continues to engage the young men in carpentry and joinery. On workdays, more than five young men patronise the place to continue to hone skills from the Mastercraft.