About the Man
He works wonders with brass and aluminium, creating a unique collection of African Jewellery. 15 years ago, Zangi had a long term dream to get himself out of construction work (intermittent and poorly paid labour) and start his own business. At the time, he worked for 35 shillings per day (about 40 cents). Supporting his mother and family with these wages, he managed to save 15 of the 35 shillings per day. He gradually saved enough money to buy some beads and made a few pairs of earrings to kick off his business.
Once a drug addict himself, he aspired to create a business that would enable him to offer drug or alcohol affected individuals from his local area, employment. He wanted an avenue to help individuals build out of dependancy on drugs. He now has a workshop within his home in Mathare, one of Nairobi’s slum areas.
Home & Workshop
Zangi and his family live in the Mathare slum on the outskirts of Nairobi – an area well known for it’s crime, displacement and extremely tough living conditions. A visit to Zangi’s workshop, (a wonderful creative space next door to his home), will find you weaving your way through small corrugated iron lined pathways. Stepping on bricks to miss the mud and crossing little wooden plank bridges over open drains on the pathways – quite a mission, especially if it has rained the previous night!
As you walk along, kids are playing, young men sitting and chatting together, mammas and old men are busy cleaning their small defined spaces. Although living conditions are immensely tough, the atmosphere is industrious, each encounter so very polite and welcoming, each space so beautifully clean and standing proud – someone’s home.
To provide for his family, and help others (drug afflicted) to find their way out of destructive habits and build sustainable lives for themselves. When Zangi secures large orders, he can have up to 10 men in his workshop at a time, working together, learning, supporting, making money. He says that his enjoyment comes from helping individuals improve themselves with creativity and new skills in business.
It is obvious that Zangi is a well respected member of his community. I’d say for a number of reasons – he trains with a young group of ‘street kids’ on the soccer field everyday, “all young boys should have a father figure to help guide them”, he says. He also trains and employs as many as he can within his business.
No bells and whistles with Zangi, just decent man doing what he can. We have utmost respect.