man earns a living from cow horns
An enterprising youth from Thamaga has carved out a living from his artistic talents, using cow horns to make different designs including earrings, necklaces, cups, paraffin lamps and sculptures.
32-year-old Galoseitse Metlhaleng first became aware of his artistic ability during his school days at Motswedi Junior Secondary School.
Realising there was a shortage of visual arts in the country, he decided that once he finished school, he would seek his fortune in that very field.
He has not looked back since.
“Art is something you live with even when you are hired somewhere else. I used to work for a period of four months only and leave the job to attend my artwork,” explained Metlhaleng in an interview with Voice Money at the President Competitions held at Molepolole museum recently.
Having come second in last year’s competition for his stunning ‘Sebaga Sa Lorato’ necklace, Metlhaleng went one better this year.
The Matshelapata Ward native scooped the top prize in the Jewellery category for his latest neckpiece, an elegant black and brownish necklace suitable named ‘All eyes on me’.
The award-winning piece is available for P650, whilst his horn cups sell at P120, rings for P90, earrings P30 and sculptures P150.
Metlhaleng, who sells his works to individuals, companies and government departments, revealed whenever he finds a cow horn he “opens his mind and communicates spiritually to determine what he can create from the horn.”
He adds it is very easy for him to manipulate a design.
“When I make a design I simply remove the upper surface of the horn, smooth it and think of what I can do. Sometimes I make three products from it,” said the dreadlocked designer, whose biggest claim to fame is helping create the life-sized ivory sculpture of an elephant that currently stands proudly at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport.
“With the elephant sculpture, I took only a month and two weeks to complete it,” he said proudly.
Metlhaleng is passionate about sharing his skill and regularly advises other youth and art students on the correct techniques to use.
He also assists disabled people around his area by teaching them his craft.
Despite the quality and craftsmanship of his pieces, Metlhaleng admits there is a limited market for his talent in Botswana.
“The most challenging thing in our country is the market; most of the people appreciate our work but do not buy. We do not have a market for visual arts, performing art is given more priority. There is no exposure,” he said with a serious face, before appealing to Batswana to support visual arts and, most importantly, buy their products.
As for the future, Metlhaleng hopes to grow his business and wants to see himself benchmarking abroad before ultimately selling his art to other countries.