Senamolela into a professional ceramist (Botswana Daily News)

| September 9, 2015

Making little cows from clay he got from the river many years ago, it never occured to Emmanuel Senamolela that the hobby would become his career. Now 34-years-old, he is a professional ceramist running his own pottery business in Kopong.

Senamolela nostalgically narrates his journey to where he is now, while his hands are busy moulding a beautiful vase from a lump of clay in a few minutes.

He remininsces about his first encounter with the potter’s wheel in 1999 at Motswakhumo Junior Secondary School.

They had just recieved a brand new machine, but their art teacher did not know how to use it.

While it lay dormant by the classroom corner, his enthusiasm pushed him to give the machine a tr,y but it ended up embarassing him.

I remember ending up with clay sludge all over, with my white shirt mud stained and everybody laughing at me. I had to rush home to change into a clean shirt, he recalls.

Being a laughing stalk about the incident discouraged him from trying to use the machine agains and instead hand-moulded his pot.

In 2001 at Moeding College, Senamolela met with the potter’s wheel again, but discovered that he had not yet recovered from the embarassing incident.

He hand-made his pot for his final project, and this time it was the kiln that he had an incident with. I found my pot broke while it was being fired in the kiln.

I was then under pressure to hastily make another one just so I can have something to submit for my final project, he recalls. Fortunately, he managed to get good marks for the project.

These experiences, he said, made him realise that he could actually become a ceramist despite the challenges, and as fate would have it, the young lad landed a job as a pottery assistant at Motse Wa Badiri Camphill in Otse.

There he met Peter Hawes and his wife. He said Hawes taught him a great deal, including the maintenance of all machinery used in ceramics, the types of clay and where to find them.

Seeing Hawes work with clay and the potter’s wheel was magic, and I was even more inspired to learn the trade. At long last the potter’s wheel and I became good fellows, Senamolela comments.

Four years later, Senamolela went to the United Kingdom to further learn the trade for one year with the Lantern Community.

With his skill, the young man who is in the process of getting a Botswana Qualification Authority accreditation, has facilitated and demonstrated for art class sessions at the University of Botswana and Molepolole College of Education to resource art teachers for junior secondary school from Kgatleng region.

He said personnel skilled in ceramics are lacking in Botswana, with most art teachers lacking practical knowledge in pottery or ceramics, thus not able to effectively teach the subject.

Along with his journey in learning pottery, Mr Senamolela has gained experience working alongside people with special needs, as he worked with Motse Wa Badiri Camphill and the Lantern Community which are both institutions mandated to help people with special needs.

He testifies of the therapeutic benefits of pottery making and encourages people, including those with special needs, to enroll for pottery making classes for that reason.

With the help of the Youth Development Fund, Senamolela established Art Discovery and Ceramics Pottery Studio business from which his ceramic products are already receiving positive reviews from clients for their exceptional quality.

As with every business startup, he said, there has been challenges such as difficulty finding land for business operations and acquiring a trading license to operate from home.

Other major challenges he said has been high start-up costs due to high machinery costs, exceeding the P100 000 fund he recieved.

He ended up digging from his own pocket to compensate for the shortfall.

He is however grateful that he has been able to overcome the biggest hurdle and is now in business, commending the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture for the funding.

Encouraging his fellow youth, Senamolela preaches resilience and commitment.

He notes that there will always be ups and downs, and that only commitment and determination will help them through.

Category: Arts Culture Entertainment

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