Joe’s personalised coffins, a hit among Zezurus
The business of coffin making is perhaps not the best topic of discussion at a time when the country is facing the Covid-19 pandemic, which as of Tuesday evening had claimed over 120, 000 lives across the world.
However, for the small-scale entrepreneur Joel Daniel, a coffin is no different from a basic need like a spade or any other tool that humans may require.
The youthful-looking 39-year-old businessman has a workshop in the corner of his house in Francistown’s Donga location. It is from there that this self-taught carpenter expertly moulds his impressive wooden products.
Daniel is a highly regarded handyman in the area, capable of building anything from wood, including: bunk beds, wardrobes, wedding decorations, baby courts and numerous other products.
It is, however, his coffin making ability that he feels is under appreciated.
“I’m known all over Francistown. I’ve fitted kitchens across this city and worked with some of the most reputable companies partitioning their offices. Yet when it comes to my coffins, for some strange reasons it is only the Zezuru people that buy them,” he said.
“I wonder if I can fit a kitchen and wall closet in houses that cost millions, why can’t people trust me to make coffins for them?” he pondered, not really expecting an answer.
Daniel told Voice Money it has always bothered him that while the populace buy most of his products and engage him to work on their properties, none of them has ever purchased a coffin from him.
“I think they’re not aware that I also make coffins. I also know the subject of a coffin is a sensitive one in Botswana, but I’m hopeful that one day many people will realise that they don’t have to spend a fortune on a coffin. You can spend less money and still have a quality and beautiful coffin to bury your loved ones,” said Daniel.
He further told Voice Money that his coffins are affordable with prices ranging between P1, 500 and P5, 000.
“Our coffins are designed to the client’s specification. If you want it personalised, I can do that and you also have the liberty to choose your own material. The price is determined by the material used,” he explained.
The skilled carpenter said he has been reluctant to market his coffins for fear of offending others, who may not take kindly to the sight of a coffin.
“I’ve never been to school, and learnt this trade at a very young age. However, I want to use the latest technology to market my business. I want to open a Facebook page and upload pictures. I’m also confident that this story in The Voice will reach many of my clients,” he added.
Ironically, Daniel made headlines in The Voice in 2003 when he was among the Ba-Zezuru parents who refused to immunise their children against polio.
This move set him and his fellow tribesmen on a collision course with government who ordered that all children should be immunized against the deadly disease.
“I can’t remember who actually took my picture and interviewed me outside court, but I still have a copy of that newspaper,” he chuckled at the 17-year-old memory.
“My daughters are all fine; they’re married now and I still don’t believe in those vaccines,” ended the nostalgic coffin maker.