Vendors find home at Vic Falls’ Big Tree curio market

By Tichaona Kurewa

A Big Tree Curio Market concept in Victoria Falls is bearing results after rehabilitating vendors and touts that were allegedly disrupting movement of tourists in the city.

Located in the Victoria Falls National Park near the Big Tree, The Big Tree Curio Market was opened in 2017 with 30 members.

It then grew to over 70 members before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Like any other sector, the market was equally battered by the COVID-19 outbreak and is now left with about 30 members as some of them reportedly relocated to their rural homes.

“Business is not the same every day. It keeps changing, but we are surviving. Here and there we have challenges with parks officials, but engagements are underway to find lasting solutions. We get our wares from local artists as well as from the surrounding villages,” said a member of the market.

“I love this market. It has sustained me and my family for some time,” another said.

The Big Tree Curio Market vice chairperson, Trevor Sibanda narrated the benefits of the market to the society.

“We have about six years operating here. We start work at about six o’clock in the morning and finish at about six o’clock in the evening. Sometimes wild animals such as elephants and baboons scatter around our wares during the night and early morning before we arrive. Business is on the upward trend these days and we are managing to put food on our tables, send our children to school and meet other expenses at home. Since we are operating from the bush we co-existing with wildlife. We also wish a shed was erected here to save us from adverse weather,” said Mr Sibanda.

The Big Tree Curio Market chairperson, Precious Goboza described the market as key in sustaining livelihoods.

“Here in the bush we are alone and there is not much competition. We sell among animals and we are able to fend for our families. We are all family members with children to take café of. We started off as individuals and later formed an association,” said Goboza.

Interestingly, the market is also visited by tourists from the bush as witnessed by the ZBC News crew which had to temporarily stop the interview and run away from an approaching elephant.

The arts and culture industry has symbolic value which gives travelers a glimpse of what to expect in any destination living an indelible memory in their minds.