Charcoal dream sparks village revival 

By Buziwe Nocuze

Sibusiso Mfazwe, 28, from Mfadaleni village in Port St John’s, Eastern Cape, has started a charcoal business that has employed eight people. 

In 2018, he started a business selling wood. 

“I was struggling, poor, and didn’t have money to buy food or clothes, I had no one and knew that I needed to do something before I died from starvation,” said Sibusiso.

“I went to the bushes to get wood and sell it to supermarkets. While I was there, I saw charcoal being sold and I did research on it. During that time, I had no idea that I was going to go into the charcoal business.”

He found out that people made charcoal from certain types of trees that are not strong enough to be sold as wood. 

“The trees they are using when making charcoal are not as strong as the umnga that I am using. Even the charcoal is not the same. I was fortunate enough because we have a lot of umnga in our village, so it is not difficult to collect,” said Sibusiso.

“Making charcoal is not easy. We get up early in the morning, go to the bushes, and get wood; we then hire a car for R200 to take it to my home from where I run my business.”

When they get to his house, they peel off the bark, put the wood inside a drum, and set it on fire.

“We put ten 500-litre drums inside a big hole. We then leave them there for about three hours to turn into charcoal; then we leave it there for about four hours to cool,” said Sibusiso.

He started his charcoal business in 2021.

“My business is called Mnga Wood Coal and I am happy that I have managed to create job opportunities for eight people because I know how it feels to have nothing.”

He sells the charcoal to supermarkets across the Eastern Cape. Mfazwe charges R50 for a 4kg bag. 

“What I need right now is a carbonisation furnace. It is a machine that bakes wood charcoal. I also need a log splitting machine that splits the logs into pieces, a van to deliver, and a storeroom. If I can get these, my job will be much easier, and I pray that I get someone who will assist me with these,” said Sibusiso.

A resident living close to Sibusiso said he is a role model for children. 

“Our kids learn a lot from him. They need to know that sometimes you don’t have to go to the cities to become successful. We are grateful that he created job opportunities for the people. We hope the government will assist him with the machines,” said the resident.

Pictured above: Sibusiso Mfazwe. 

Image source: Supplied

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