Sunday 10 February 2013

Business, African style

Gibson Rugwinya happened to be cycling down the road as I was getting out of my car at my friend's house one early evening. We smiled and greeted one another. This is not a country where strangers politely ignore one another, so I was only mildly surprised when Gibson, a total stranger to me, jumped off his bike to give me a great bear-hug.

He was interested in the camera over my shoulder, and in what kinds of pictures I like to take. We exchanged some life history and I learned that he was not local but from Namibia. Then he told me he was an artist and had a certain gift. 

Because I have a love affair with the kind of artistic creativity that flourishes here, usually involving recycled materials, I expressed an interest, and Gibson opened a battered box tied to the back of his bicycle.

(At this point I was really hoping I would like what I was about to see, because it was going to be awfully hard to turn down someone of Gibson's charm).

I loved what I saw. Working from discarded sheet metal, Gibson creates busy, active people, from hunters to athletes to musicians. 

I loved this quartet, but  there was a problem. I didn't have cash on me to pay for them.
No problem! said Gibson. Take them, and I will write down the number of my savings account.
So you're going to give me these sculptures and trust that I will pay you?
Gibson looked affronted. Of course I trust you! We're friends now!

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