Passionate and hardworking rural inventor

Pilato Bulala

Rural doctors and taxis and art lovers drive the dust road to Tshivhuyuni frequently. You always find children stringing to school, women swinging under loads of firewood and a certain point have to drive slower to avoid the Nguni cattle taking their afternoon nap in the middle of the road. That is all to be expected, until one day…

When a canary yellow one-man aircraft with peppermint green dots rise out of the settling dust.

You stop and let the 19 year old Pilato Bulala usher you in. “I will fly over those trees there,” he shows me the open veld. “I won’t fly there where the electric cables and wires will catch me,” he explains. The aircraft is made out of scrap zinc. It flies the South African flag, has controls and sits on a old bicycle frame.

This school boy is the quintessential inventor

“Look,” he says and climbs into a red oxide zinc- bakkie, a Toyota from the front and a Volkswagen from the back and has a Gauteng number plate. “I made this car in 2010. Now I am looking for a brush cutter engine for the ‘fly-machini’ and bakkie, then I will drive around here and fetch wood. This fish there,” he points to the large sharp toothed creature, “I made it for the Police. They made a movie which had to show a dangerous fish”.

Pilato had then neither power tools nor electricity. Every detail is made with zinc and wire and sheer will. He displays his items on a raised plot on the roadside between artists Thomas Kubayi and Justice Mugwena at his sister Roselyn’s house. He used to live with his mother Agnes Radzengani Rasengani who works for Akanani Rural Development project but “no one drives on that road”. He wished for people to see his inventions. That is why, one day, he brought all these to Roselyn’s house. There is also a zinc cow a crocodile and small helicopter he pulled from the kitchen roof, like a magician.

You see I make many things

Pilato goes to a secondary school behind his sister’s house. What happened to your one eye Pilato, I asked? “We don’t have a stove in our house. In 2010 I went to the bush to get firewood. I tore one piece of wood and carried it home. I fell and the piece of wood pierced my eye. When I got home they called the ambulance. I didn’t know what was going on. Now the eye can see only light, but I am good now, it is not a problem, you see, I make many things, it is not a problem at all”.

Always on the look-out for engines and new ideas

Since that day Pilato has attended a week-end workshop at Thomas Kubayi’s Vutsila Art Centre and has spend a few days at Madi a Thavha mountain lodge where he made more fishes and earrings and children’s toys.

As for the fly-machini..

Well, it now sits on display between the art works of renowned Limpopo artists of the Venda Tsonga CraftArt Exhbition at Madi a Thavha mountain lodge. He also has other Zinc-artworks, earrings and small zinc fishes on display at this exhibition.

Contact details:

Pilato Bulala (born 1995)

Phone nr: 072 343 1202

In Tshivunyuni village -500m from well known artist Thomas Kubayi’s Vutshila art centre, Limpopo province.