Moreblessings Moyo: A street vendor in Harare who does more with less

by | Feb 7, 2021

Makadikko, avandi Moreblessings Moyo.

Mama Moreblessings is my new comic book character. Read her story here: Moreblessings

Moreblessings works as a street vendor in Harare, Zimbabwe, hustling to make ends meet, while her husband does the same as an uber driver in South Africa. When her young daughter, Tatenda, comes home with a note from school to say fees have been increased, Moreblessings is faced with a very difficult decision.

I am a comic book artist, based in Harare, and through the Design Futures Africa storytelling project, I was commissioned to interpret Maxwell Mutanda’s circular design thinking. (Maxwell is a pluridisciplinary researcher, designer and visual artist living between Harare and Cape Town.)

Moreblessings is an idea born from my interpretation of his work. Her story is ubiquitous among street vendors in Harare. Less than 10% of Zimbabweans work in the formal sector, and the economy is now mostly informal and reliant on social relationships. We have learnt how to rely on fewer resources, and how to be more productive with the same resources. You could say we’re adopting circular economy practices: we’re trying to do more with less.

Circular solutions can’t be copy-and-pasted from the Western world and applied to an African context. You can’t, for instance, install multiple colour-coded bins for recycling. This doesn’t work here. We have our own way of doing things like home farming. This subsistence farming is a revolutionary green concept in a lot of Western countries, but it’s very much standard practice in Zimbabwe. Many people keep chickens, grow tomatoes and corn in a low-waste environment, which they sell, trade and distribute to their immediate communities.  Now, many corner vendors have shifted to selling hand sanitisers and hand-sewn masks, upcycled from fabric waste, to make ends meet.

Faced with increased school fees, Moreblessings has to do more with her current resources. Like most of her friends and colleagues, she has a phone for Ecocash – mobile money –  a table, goods and produce, a solar panel at home…. Ecocash has 6.7 million subscribers (a large proportion of Zimbabwe’s 15 million people), 4.7million more than banks.

For this story, I focus on one of circular design’s core practices: dematerialisation. Circular design aims to reduce the reliance on resources, minimise the amount of materials used…  I’ve explored how technology can be used to achieve this.

I don’t think there is anything more honest, or anything more circular than how Moreblessings adapts her business. She is a bridge between the greener future and where we are as a country right now.

I love telling her story and it’s more than these pages I’ve created. Her story is about the lives of people living right now. Hers is a story of triumph. It’s an honest story.

Download Moreblessings: A Tale of Circularity here: Moreblessings

Listen to Bill talk about Moreblessings

 

 

About

  • Bill is a Nommo Award nominated comic book artist and writer born in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1993. He is the creator of comic books Razor-Man, Welcome to Dead World, and Captain South Africa as well as the author of the Misfortunism book series. His artwork has appeared in galleries around southern Africa and he has been a guest speaker at events such as MCM London Comic Con, FanCon Cape Town, Comic Con Africa, and Harare Literature Festival. Bill has created a story based on the work of multi-disciplinary researcher designer and visual artist, Maxwell Mutanda. See Bill’s work here. 
  • This is the third of a six-part story series, Design Futures Africa, about African creatives using circular design. Storytellers have worked with Twyg on stories that will be published once a week until 28 February on Twyg. This project is supported by the British Council. The designers were hosted by the British Council and Ellen MacArthur Foundation at the Circular Design Lab 2019 London.

Credits

  • Feature illustration: Francesco Mbele @franadilla
  • Comic book art illustration of Moreblessings: Bill Masuku
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