Sunday Profile: MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka
GIFT Mainza was born in 1988 in Masauko Compound in Lusakaâ€™s Kanyama township. At the age of two, his fatherdied making life hard for his mother who had to depend on selling groceries at a makeshift stall to sustain her children.
For Gift, life became more challenging and difficult as this meant copying with a harsh livelihood. He attended school in the morning at Chibolya Primary School and helped his mother in the stall in the afternoon.
Life almost came to a blank when his mother died when he was in his sixth grade. He was later taken by his uncle in Chilenje township.
In 2006, Gift wrote his Grade 7 seven exams after which he went to Chongwe Boarding Secondary School.
According to Gift, life at a boarding school was a challenge and a different experience as he interacted with people from different backgrounds.
â€œIt was not easy for my uncle to pay my school fees as he was not in any form of employment but was conducting a small business. He worked hard despite these challenges and by the grace of God, he managed to pay school fees,â€ he said.
Due to peer pressure in Grade 11, Gift started indulging in illicit behaviour like beer drinking and smoking, when his uncle tried to advise him, he got upset and left the uncleâ€™s house to live with his grandmother in Kanyama.
â€œI was negatively influenced by my friends, as you know there is a lot of freedom in boarding school because parents are far away. Usually as a youth, one tends to follow what their friends do and think that is the right thing when in fact notâ€ he said.
To make matters worse, he engaged in intimacy relationships and in Grade 12, he got a girl pregnant.
Gift could not concentrate fully in school as he had to take the new responsibility.
â€œWhen we closed school, I used to find pieceworks in the industries in order to provide for my pregnant girlfriendâ€ he said.
However, his girlfriend gave birth in 2011 when Gift completed his secondary education but she opted for another man who was able to take full responsibility of the child.
After school, Gift found work as a seller in a marketing firm, Granton Market Suppliers. The work was arduous as it was field work, where he had to walk, sometimes covering long distances as far as Chongwe.
In the same year, Gift started working with his neighbour, a bricklayer, building structures.
It was not long before Gift and his neighbour had differences over money.
â€œHe would make me do more work. When we a get a contract, he worked for two days and left all the work to me. When I asked him about the money, he gave excuses. I felt it was time to move on because I could not allow him to continue taking advantage of meâ€ gift said.
After the separation, Gift, who was not established in the trade, went on for months before he could get a contract.
When he finally got one himself with a Chinese contractor in 2012, he was paid K10 per day as a bricklayer.
Despite such setbacks, he remained focused and worked hard until the contract came to an end in 2013. But it was not time for him to refocus and acquire a skill that would sustain him.
â€œI could no longer continue to struggle just to find means of survival. I felt the need to find a way that would enable me sustain myselfâ€ he said.
Gift later started associating with friends who taught him jewellery making and it was from here that his interest was aroused and he turned it into a business venture. In the beginning, he doubled bricklaying and jewellery making.
According to him, he worked as a bricklayer in the afternoons after which he walked around to sell jewellery in the night.
It was becoming clearer that bricklaying was not working for him, making him settle for jewellery making business because it offered better returns.
The business has proved lucrative and sustainable. He is able to feed himself, pay rentals and other bills.
â€œOn a good day, I manage to make K300. When there is no business I make K100. I live in a three roomed house and I am also able to support my daughter in schoolâ€ he said.
He dreams of making his business big and wants to create employment for his fellow youths.
His major challenge is the procurement of materials as some of them have to be imported.
â€œIf I am provided with adequate material and financial support, I can even start exporting our jewellery and bring more money into the country,â€ he said.
He advised fellow youths to be innovative and develop life skills that would help them to make ends meet. Gift, a Rastafarian by faith, believes that everything comes from God and that people must seek from him.
Sunday Profile: MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka