Travel & Tourism : Artefact traders lament decline in business

Gogo Simbi is seen here showcasing her artefacts in Kariba (Zimbabwe side). Photo by Esther Shavi, CAJ News Africa

ARTEFACTS traders, mostly elderly women, in Kariba have decried low business amid lack of customers. This can be attributed to the challenges facing Zimbabwe’s tourism sector over the years but some believe this is because of poor marketing of the resort town by authorities. Most of the vendors are women selling souvenirs such as bags, necklaces, bead wear, key holders, printed tablecloths and bed covers.

Among these is Gogo Simbi, who started her informal business 36 years ago.Through this business, she has managed to raise her family. “I have been here since 1987,” she said in an interview.

She does crocheting and beading. Simbi also sells hats, printed bed spreads, dresses and kimonos. She is a self-taught crafter. “When we started this business, tourists thronged the place,” she reminisced.

“Nowadays, there are fewer customers but we cannot stay at home. This place is of great importance,” Simbi said. Despite the challenges, Simbi challenged fellow women to be resilient.“My husband died when my children were still young,” she recounted. “When I started this business, the language barrier was a big problem since I could not speak English. I can now speak basic English and communicate with customers,” Simbi said.

Erika Katsanganda, born in 1958, is also in the business of artefacts. She lamented low business. “I started this business 20 years ago,” she recalled. “We could get a lot of money selling these things. Times are hard. No one is coming to buy for us. I need to take care of my grandkids,” Katsanganda said.

“This is the only business that I know of, I can’t go back to my village at this old age. We only need customers who can come and buy from us like before.” She said at peak, she would get US$50 but lately she goes home empty handed some days.

– CAJ News



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