“I was born in Mutoko in the eastern side of Zimbabwe in 1974. My parents moved to Harare when I was 3 years old to live in an informal settlement that was 30km south of Harare until they were allocated a house 2 years later. I have 3 living siblings, Tichaona, John and Nyarai (the only girl) and Stuart who sadly passed on two years ago. My father worked as a caretaker for a gliding club in Harare. My mother would sometimes sell fruit and vegetables at a farmers’ market. We lived in a small house without any luxury items. When I started primary school, I had only one pair of shoes and one uniform – I got my first pair of socks when I was in high school. During school breaks we used to go to my father’s workplace as he lived there. We didn’t; have any toys and the only thing that would entertain us whilst we were there were our wire cars which my younger brother Tichaona and I taught ourselves to make. I remember one day we were pushing our toy cars along the road and a child of one of the gliding club members cried for my ‘car’. His parents asked me if they could buy it from me, so I sold it to them. Two other members then asked me to make a car for their children too. I was only 10 years old, but I realised I had a talent and could make money from it. I put the money I got from the sale of those cars into a little piggy bank that I made myself.
My father used to ask me how much I wanted to study at school, and I told him I wanted to matriculate (same as A-Level). This was not common for people living in townships. However, two years into my high school education, my father was unable to keep paying the fees. His relationship with my mother was not good and he didn’t treat us well - this made my childhood hard. My mother was illiterate and couldn’t speak English, so it was difficult for her to ask for help. One day she took me to one of the club members at my fathers’ workplace who used to work for the Red Cross. My mother asked me to tell her all the challenges we were facing at home because my father wasn’t caring for us anymore. Eventually, my father left, and my mother had to struggle to make ends meet through selling vegetables. I helped to support the family through making and selling my wire art.
After leaving school, I started looking at other designs and made helicopters, bicycles, and Rolls Royce cars. The money I made helped my siblings and would buy clothes, food, and books for school. I even sold my designs to an Italian restaurant in Harare. In 2001 my father passed away and 2 years later I lost my mother to meningitis. I met Patience, the love of my life in 2002 two years later we were blessed with our son, Farai. He is studying at boarding school, and I am so proud of how well he is doing. In 2004, I started added beading to my wire sculptures and started to design animals. We moved to South Africa in 2009.
My bead and wire sculptures mean so much to me. They provided for my mother and my siblings when I was a child and now, they provide for my own family.”
Webster is an ally for women and stands with us in the fight against gender-based violence.