About usOur staff
Tribal Textiles is one of the largest employers in Eastern Zambia, an area of high unemployment, employing over 100 local Zambian men and women in diverse roles from accountants and shop keepers to groundsmen, watchmen and most importantly our highly trained artists. It goes without saying that the life blood of Tribal Textiles is our staff and when you buy one of our pieces it has been hand drawn, hand painted and sewn by one of our hugely talented staff members.
We would like to introduce you to individuals in our team through our ‘Featured Employee’ initiative.
This month we are delighted to introduce you to Richard Mwanza.
Richard is 42 and joined Tribal Textiles in 1998. He has risen through the company to become Head of Mixing, one of the most skilled roles at Tribal Textiles. It took Richard three years of training to fully learn the art of paint mixing, and even when things in the workshop are busy, he always mixes with precision and care to create our beautiful paint colours.
Richard is married and has eight children aged 1- 17 as well as four dependents. He is using his Tribal Textiles wages to build a bigger house! Thanks to his regular income Richard has also been able to support four of his children through school up to Grade 12.
With his family commitments Richard is a very busy man and he tells us that he rarely has time to waste! When he does get free time however he enjoys going to watch local football matches – his team is Mfuwe Rangers, who Tribal Textiles helps to sponsor. One of our artists Jeff Lungu plays midfield in the team, so Richard often goes to cheer him on.
Elias is a famous member of our starching team as he is our chief animal artist. Elias is an incredible, naturally gifted artist who was talent spotted by Tribal Textiles because of his wonderful creative skills. When asked why he enjoys working at Tribal Textiles, Elias tells us that he is delighted to have found a job where he gets to use his creative talents every day.
Elias’s artistic talent developed early. A lack of art supplies meant that instead of using paper and pencils, he would use sticks to draw images of animals and people in the mud after the rains. As he grew older, Elias’s love of art led him to decorate the outside of his neighbours’ houses for free! Although neighbours told him that he could charge money for these beautiful animal murals, Elias simply did it for his love of art. Luckily his brother Tiza was already working for Tribal Textiles, and he suggested Elias as an artist for the company; we’ve never looked back!
Elias is from a big family of five siblings and he himself has five children. His wife Beatrice looks after the day to day running of the house, and she also works in their small market garden growing vegetables and maize. Beatrice and Elias live in a brick house, and as soon as it is plastered they are planning to decorate it with Elias’s beautiful drawings just like in the old days.
This is the story of Evans, our Head of Painting at Tribal Textiles.
Evans began working with Tribal Textiles in 2007 and was promoted to Head of Painting in 2011. Evans is a fantastic team leader and oversees the training and development of new painters, as well as the day-to-day management of our busy Painting Department. When asked what he gets most job satisfaction from, Evans tells us it’s “working with my team of people to produce good orders fast!”
Evans lives 3kms from Tribal Textiles in a house that he built over the space of 5 years. He tells us that he built the house ‘bit by bit’ using his wages from Tribal Textiles: in the first year he bought the roof, then in year 2 the bricks, in years 3 and 4 he built the walls and finally in year 5 he bought the door! In 2013 the job continues with plaster to stop the rain getting in. Evans also runs a successful small holding from home, where he raises chickens, guinea fowl, pigs and goats and grows pumpkins, rice and maize amongst many other things! The income that Evans gets from selling these products at market supplements his Tribal Textiles wages and helps to pay school fees for his 6 dependents.
Evans doesn’t have much spare time, but when he does he loves to listen to the radio and visit his mother who lives next door. When not at school or doing homework, Evans’ children help to tend to the animals and an evening treat is watching cartoons before bed. Three of Evans’ children attend Malimba Community School, the nearby primary school that Tribal Textiles founded in conjunction with Gid and Adrian Carr and the local community. Dyman, age 13, is top of his class in English and wants to be a pilot so that he can travel to new places and support his parents when they grow old. Like most Zambian boys his age, Dyman loves football, and his dream is to watch the Zambian national football team Chipolopolo play a match live. If anyone can make this dream come true, it is his Dad Evans! With such a determined and positive attitude, we’re privileged to have Evans as part of our Tribal Textiles team, and we wish his family all the success in the world.
It’s our pleasure to introduce Paul Lungu. Paul began working with Tribal Textiles as a gardener in 2000, and his positive outlook and fantastic work ethic soon marked him out for promotion to Head Groundsman and Storesman. Paul has 6 children, and he’s proud that his son Jeff also works with Tribal Textiles in our painting department.
Paul’s favourite part of his job is the variety – one day he finds himself decorating the Tribal Textiles shop, the next plumbing, another tending our vegetable garden, and of course always capably managing the company’s stores. When asked if he ever gets lonely holding the fort during the rains when the workshop is closed, Paul says he doesn’t mind, as after 13 years he’s used to it. We think he also secretly likes being in charge of the Tribal Textiles sound system, where he loves to mix up the Zambian tunes with his favourite – James Brown!
Ruth Chilepa joined us as a sewer in 2007 and thanks to her work ethic and desire to learn was promoted to ‘Head of Finishing’ in our Sewing department in 2010. As is often the case Ruth’s life outside of work is not easy. Her sister died in 2005 leaving behind three orphans, Sandra, Violet and Emmanuel. Ruth is proud of how the kids are doing in school and she runs a small business selling clothes from her home to help pay their school fees.
When asked why she works for Tribal Textiles she explained ‘It is a good place, with good people, management and good everything’.
Let us introduce our first featured employee Emmanuele Nguni.
Emmanuele started at Tribal Textiles in 1995 and has worked with us for over 17 years. Now 46 years old Emmanuele has been singled out as a hugely talented starcher capable of free hand-drawing all of our most complex pieces from the breathtaking Tribal Art to our intricate Various Animals designs. His skills have developed hugely during his time with Tribal Textiles; he started as a watchman, before being promoted to carver, painter, oven operator and finally starcher.
Emmanuele is married to Mary and has seven children; five girls and two boys. He laughingly explains he does a lot of listening at home! He is also responsible for three dependants after his sister tragically died. When Emmanuele isn’t working he spends his time farming growing maize, cotton and rice. In the little free time he has he indulges his hobby of listening to the radio.
Emmanuele’s favourite thing about working at Tribal Textiles is learning to draw new designs.