A Standard 6 dropout, Joseph Mahata, has found lucrative business in turning aluminium gear boxes and other motor vehicle parts into cooking pots.
The technology is simple. Mahata first melts the gear box in a charcoal-powered mini furnace and pours the liquid metal in a pot-shaped frame and in no time, an aluminium pot comes out which he cools using wet soil.
Mahata plies his trade along the MI Road at Mizenje, a kilometre away from Blantyreâ€˜s bustling trading centre of Lunzu.
But how did he go into pot-making trade?
â€œIt is a long story,â€ says the 30-year-old man from Nalikata Village, Traditional Authority Mkanda in Mulanje.
Mahata dropped out of school in Standard 6 at Chikonde Primary School in Mulanje in 1998 because of his fatherâ€™s illness.
â€œLife changed when my father fell sick and he could not work. My mother took over as bread winner but she was struggling to make ends meet. So, I was forced to drop out of school to help her to fend for the family,â€ he says.
Mahata first launched his career as â€˜bicycle repairerâ€™, but he did not enjoy it so he went to Chikangawa in Mzimba to work as a sawyer.
â€œAt Chikangawa, I lived a hand-to-mouth type of life so I decided to try my luck in Lilongwe where I met Emmanuel Kilingwe from Quelimane in Mozambique who taught me how to make pots from aluminium.
â€œWhen I mastered the art, I came here last year to set up my business,â€ he says.
Mahata buys old aluminium gear boxes, pistons, heads and other motor vehicle parts from garages and car breakers.
Out of 50 kilogrammes of scrap metals, he produces 20 pots and sells a set of four pieces at K9 000.
â€œBusiness is good and I am overwhelmed with orders,â€ says the father of two children Junior and Emily.
Mahata has created employment for some people at Mizenje, especially the youth who help him to do some final touches to the pots.
Carpenters, too, are also benefiting from his art as they are engaged to make wooden handles for the pots.
Mahata mainly sells his pots to businesspeople who resell them in different parts of Blantyre.
Businessperson Sunganani Â Bamusi buys a set of pots from Mahata at K9 000 resells it in Chileka at K12 000.
â€œBuying and selling pots is the only business keeping me in town. If Mahata closes shop, then I am doomed. In a day, I sell two sets,â€ says Bamusi.
One only wishes that the countryâ€™s education system equipped the youth with skills such as pot making so when they could meaningfully contribute to the countryâ€™s socioeconomic development.