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Surviving on wood

MOMPATI TLHANKANE
Maendo has been designing frames since the late 1980s PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Taking photos and uploading them on Instagram is as easy as pushing a button on a smartphone. But choosing the right picture frames remains a daunting task.

Whether one is updating old picture frames or looking to display new images from one’s family life, everyone needs fresh and lively frame ideas.  The latter should a beautiful reflection of reality.

As a reflection on the subject matter, Arts & Culture visited a 67-year-old seasoned carpenter. He knows it all from design choice to considering the context of one’s home or office before venturing into designing and selecting the best frame.

Having been in the game for decades, Efestus Maendo makes frames from sleek and modern to scruffy chic. Whatever one’s artistic taste, Maendo has all the looks that complement favorite photos and home’s theme. 

The man from Maun who currently resides at Lentsweletau has been designing frames since the late 1980s when worked for different companies. “I am now self-employed and I have been based at Thapong Visual Arts Centre for three years now,” he told Arts & Culture in an interview.

He said he was currently busy with designing frames for President’ Day Competitions. Looking back, he is possibly one of the first people to learn carpentry in Botswana. “Carpentry goes along with making frames, I was discovered at a company which I worked for. The company realised that I could cut wood and join pieces together. I was then hired to make various frames including photo frames,” he recalled.

Maendo explained that he would forever be grateful for his former employers who took him for studies in South Africa where he learnt to use machinery. He is now proud that he

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managed to teach many other people his skills including his former colleagues.  His clientele comprises government and individuals.

He normally takes an hour and half to finish a frame. He added that he doesn’t just work on wood only but he can work with other materials. In terms of price range, he said it depends on size and sometimes design and material. “My most expensive frame costs more than P1,200,” he said. From framing pictures to mirrors, he emphasised that he  framed paintings for fellow artists.

Besides framing Maendo said he also makes trunks or kists for items such as  clothes. Kesi as he likes to call them, Maendo indicated that as someone who has been doing carpentry since the 70s, making kists is a something he is so passionate about. “Kist is so valuable when you want to store clothes or linen,” he said. Maendo beautify the kists with mirrors and many other decorations. 

He said his native Herero tribe mostly buys his products. “When a Herero woman gets married, he joins her new family with a kit. She will rather not have anything but a kit is the most important item she takes,” he highlighted.

Maendo said the customer determines the use of the kist. “Prices range from P3,500 upward,” he said.  He recalls how the first brigades in Serowe taught carpentry in Botswana in the late 70s and that is where traces his foundation. Initially He worked from home but moved to Thapong that pushed him to greater heights.



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