The dusty stretch that leads to Patrick Jabulani Manyike Art Gallery is steep and uneven, but scenic with a series of mountains overlooking the house we are led to in Mbokota Village near Elim.
In the afternoon wind as we enter the yard of the one roomed brownish house built with mud and stones. On the edges of the mountains a barefoot Patrick Manyike, who is the owner of the gallery that doubles up as his place of sleep, appears and smiles widely as the media contingent greets him.
This is one of the Limpopo Tourism Agency’s efforts to promote local talent in Villages such as in Mbokota where the 40-year old Functional Artist has been living with his family since he was born.
Carvings of Artwork, around 40 pieces surround Manyika as he tells of how he likes making art that speaks to people as all his art work has a story behind them.
“I have a story about Ndzundza [mermaid] and a fisherman. It’s a sculpture that I have made and it’s about a man who used to hunt fish and one day he fished out a mermaid who then fell in love with it,”Manyike said.
Like many other artists Manyike has a piece called ‘Poor Artist of Limpopo’ the sculpture of sad faces carved in one piece of wood tells a story of the plight of Limpopo artist.
“Many artists in Limpopo don’t have enough support from the government. They don’t take care of us. We are suffering but continue to do our best regardless,” he said.
Manyike says he walks six kilometers over mountains twice a week to get the best wood like Leed wood and black Ivory to continue crafting his art.
“This is something that I was born with. It’s a kind of a calling, even when people from this area are not interested in art. I won’t stop this I love it and it’s something that I have to sustain because I was given to by the gods. I was sent by the gods to this planet to do the job i am doing.
“Before the white people came to South Africa we used wood for everything even as plates for food before we got plastic bowls,” the married father of two girls said.
When asked how he survives in the Villages selling Art since people in his area were not interested,
Manyike explains that the highest he has ever made was R6000 from a white supporters of Art who had heard about the gallery.
“I had made a sculpture about xenophobic violence that had erupted years ago and this man came all the way from Johannesburg to purchase it. Otherwise I also have a garden where we have planted vegetables that sustain me and my family,” he added.