Our very own South African “MacGyver”, “A Model citizen”
Extracts from the article “MacGyver-a model citizen” from Bulletin Magazine, 1st Quarter 2006 are included in this story.
Mncedisi Mbundu’s english name is MacGyver and like his namesake on the popular 80’s TV series, this man is an innovator extraordinaire. Living in an area called Barcelona, in the Township Gugulethu near Cape Town, Mncedisi is a South African of Xhosa speaking heritage. Having grown up during the Apartheid laws and consequently traversing into “The New South Africa”, he turned to craft to combat unemployment and poverty. He realized that if he was going to support his wife Ntombekhaya and his young daughter Sinovuyo, he would have to think creatively to make ends meet.
“I started by building models of houses using scrap ceiling board that I found,” he says. “It would take me four days to build a house and then I’d sell it on the street. This I did for two years until I just could not make any more houses.”
Changing direction and material, he started building replicas of 4 x 4 vehicles using Perspex. These proved to be more successful and led him to try his hand at models of front end loaders, again using ceiling board.
“I tried selling these models in the city of Cape Town but the traffic police chased me away,” he explained. However, thinking resourcefully inspired him to approach a construction vehicle company Bell Equipment to market his products.
According to Mbundu, Bell staff were both surprised and encouraging at the level of his craft and even gave him some sheet metal, encouraging him to build more. Bell’s commissions gave him the confidence and finance to invest in more crafting tools, thereby enabling him to diversify his craft and expand his market appeal.
Since then, Mncedisi’s product range has developed dramatically. He produces anything from aeroplanes and helicopters to motorbikes and cars to even Festive Makarapa Football helmets. (This was an extremely lucrative venture during the FIFA 2010 World Cup.) His simple tools consist of an electric drill, long nose pliers, a rivet gun and a pair of scissors. However, Mncedisi’s crafts are so meticulously crafted that one wonders what he could do with the right funding and opportunity.
Imagine driving around in a car or bike made from recycled tin cans! Wouldn’t that be an eco conservation statement of note? When one looks at Mncedisi’s products, the idea is quite plausible.
Mncedisi “MacGyver” Mbundu is a pleasure to work with. His modest smile understates his massive talent. With over a decade of work experience in the craft industry, his professionalism and reliability is celebrated. He has worked on a number of orders for African Home, specializing in cars and aeroplanes. We hope to further facilitate his success as, like his spectacular products, he sure is driven.