Fungai Mutsotso’s father was a visionary.
When other girls were being taught to play house and make dolls, he had an empowerment strategy to cushion his daughters against poverty.
He taught them everything from ploughing to brick-making.
Now, his efforts are paying off. The mother of three, originally from Nyashanu, Buhera now stays in the resettled Vee plaats farms a distance of 10 km from Chivhu town in Mashonaland East towards Gutu, from where she is benefiting from his hard work mantra.
She has managed to build a sturdy homestead for herself through brick-making usually considered a man’s job.
“As early as 12 years, my father had taught us to mold bricks. Then I was moulding at least 20 to 30 bricks. Thereafter I perfected the art and can now make over 5 000,” she said.
This hard work resulted in her father being a well-off man who managed to send his children to school even though he was never formally employed.
“My father lacked for nothing. He was even a prosperous person who taught us to work for ourselves. He always said I am preparing you for life after I am gone so you may be able to sustain yourself and shun dependency. Now I am seeing the wisdom in his foresight,” she added.
She said that brickmaking is a fruitful venture which along with farming has sustained her every year. “Last year I made 8 000 bricks which I sold and started a fish selling business. This year, I have 7 000 ready ones with plans to make about 5 000 more which I have already started on. I intend to sell these so that I can buy clothes bales (second hand) clothes from Mutare for resale here in the resettlements,” she added.
A 1 000 farm bricks are being sold for USD$30. “Our buyers are fellow neighbors while people from Chivhu town buy from us as well,” she affirmed. Quizzed on whether the Chivhu city council had started accepting farm bricks which they had previously condemned, the mother of three said “Our farm bricks are being accepted by the Chivhu city council as we use a bigger mold (foroma.) suitable for making standard bricks unlike the small ones used by others.”
Pertaining to challenges that she may be facing, Mutsotso said “the most important one is owning a water pump crucial in mixing the mortar. I currently use my head to fetch all the water needed in 20-liter buckets although the water source is only a km away and so would appreciate an engine powered pump. I fear that the strain from carrying the said buckets although less noticeable now will eventually take a toll on my health in the long run.”
Mutsotso said the venture is also a labor intensive one although that is not a problem for her as she is still strong enough to tackle other homestead jobs which require her attention. “Brickmaking is a hard-working enterprise.
My normal day begins at six am and I usually finish at four pm. I am responsible for the whole process of mixing mortar up to the firing or heating stage which my husband helps me with as I am unable to do so on my own. I usually mold about 100 bricks per day and so the whole process is made easier if you have extra help,” she said.
Her parting remarks were that parents should instill hardworking ethics in their children regardless of their gender. “My father set a good example for us as kids. Though we used to rebel against his insistence for us to work, I have realized that children do need that push if they are to survive in this harsh world. I can practically do anything from yoking cattle for ploughing to brick-making and even though times have changed, the work ethics are the same. Children should work hard and not be financially dependent on anyone,” she concluded.