IF not for the band he joined nine years ago, Peter Hiskia would not have become a goldsmith and be doing what he loves more than anything in the world today.
Hiskia (36) of Ondangwa was introduced to jewellery manufacturing by his former band members at Swakopmund in 2009. After that he trained in the trade and finished a three-year apprenticeship to qualify as a goldsmith. Now, he runs a backyard workshop at his house in Ondangwa where he manufactures and works on different types of jewellery from metals such as gold, silver and platinum.
He also uses precious gemstones in his work. He manufactures and also repairs rings, pendants, earrings, bangles and bone-recycled jewellery.
“It all happened in the most unexpected way. I was a band member with some three guys who were goldsmiths working for a local jewellery company,” he told Confidente in his workshop at his house in the Okangwena location of Ondangwa this week.
He says the band members informed him then that there was an apprenticeship opportunity at their company and asked if he would like to try his luck at it. “Initially, I had reservations but later on I decided to give it a try and as they say, ‘the rest is history,’” he observed.
It was a good and timely opportunity for him as he got to work under the tutelage of four master goldsmiths, specialised in different areas of the trade. After completing his apprenticeship at Swakopmund-based Africa Art Jewells, he had a two-year stint in Germany, were he also worked in the jewellery industry, but specialising in jewellery repairs.
“I had a very pleasant and productive time in Germany. My training in Namibia was more into manufacturing but in Germany I was introduced to jewellery repair techniques,” he stated.
Coming back home from Europe with a considerable set of skills and experience under his belt, Hiskia worked briefly at an art and craft shop belonging to the COSDEF Foundation at Swakopmund, where he gave lessons to community members, including inmates from the Swakopmund facility.
Not long after, he left for the north to open his workshop at home in Ondangwa. It is here where people from as far as Ohangwena visit him for his services on a daily basis. “He worked on my wedding ring which became small and he expanded it. He is the best I know when it comes to this work,” enthused Mathew Mbango of Ongha, who came to pick up his modified ring and fixed gold bracelet.
Hiskia bemoaned lack of participation in this trade by previous disadvantaged folks. He observed that not many black people were involved in the trade professionally, but attributes this to a lack of information and background.
Having applied for equipment funding from the community empowerment fund of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, as well as the programme run by the Minstry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Hiskia hopes to expand his business and train more Namibia youth in jewellery manufacturing and repair.
“If I get an opportunity to have good machinery, I want to train and work with people here. This industry is lucrative if one has the right machinery,” he noted.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015