Tembo sisters brush away barriers in construction with paint

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TWO sisters in Lusaka, Zambia, are defying societal expectations by choosing paintbrushes over makeup palettes.

In a City like Lusaka, where slay queens invest their time thickening their faces with different layers of make up, two sisters decided to paint buildings as a way of adding colour to their lives.

Adessy and Thandiwe Tembo, armed with determination and artistic vision, are transforming the city’s landscape, one colorful building at a time.

Their journey began with a desire to break free from the constraints of traditional gender roles.

After facing physical challenges in bricklaying, they discovered a passion for painting, igniting a spark that led them to establish their own company, “Two Sisters Construction” in 2020.

However, just like any other successful story, the sister duo’s story was not spared from ups and downs.

With only grade twelve certificates, the two jumped on a programme to study bricklaying and plastering at Build It International and immediately started working as bricklayers.

“After completing our course, we started working for a certain company as bricklayers. But the type of work we were doing was very difficult for us. We then decided to stop,” said Thandiwe.

She said it was at this point that they got inspiration for painting.

“Before we stopped work, we used to see some girls do painting and we were inspired to also try out painting. And we knew we could do it,” she added.

At that point, fusing the zeal with determination, they got employed at another company under painting and scheming.

This opportunity catapulted them to go to Livingstone where they got trained in scheming and painting.

Adessy further said despite inspiring a lot of young people, the sisters also face a lot of segregation, mockery and even unfairness from a lot of people.

“The challenges are many, a lot of people think we are in construction because we are after men. Others think we can’t manage to do a good job, so they decide to give their projects to men even when we pitch first,” she lamented.

“Sometimes we are laughed at even by our own friends. But it matters less to us as long as we are able to take care of ourselves and our family.”

Whatever the two have achieved is just a stepping stone to the bigger dream. They intend on expanding their company and employ and train other girls as they believe that girls can be great too.

“A lot of young girls have engaged themselves in a lot of disrespectful activities which they can easily come out if they can also get some skills and work on themselves,” added Adessy.

Despite facing skepticism and even mockery from some, the Tembo sisters persevere daily, driven by a desire to inspire young girls and demonstrate the vast potential that lies beyond societal pressures.

By Catherine Pule

Kalemba March 7, 2024

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