Sorobabel Ntutumu Obono

By Firmain Eric Mbadinga

Pinocchio, the main hero of Italian author Carlo Lorenzini's fairy tale novel The Adventures of Pinocchio, may have come to life in fiction, but Sorobabel Ntutumu Obono's wooden creations are bringing life in many homes in Equatorial Guinea

Although they don't move or speak, the creations of 30-year-old Sorobabel Ntutumu Obono are full of life, and their colours and shapes are a real eye-catcher for anyone who gets the chance to see or touch them in Bata, the economic capital of West African country.

Whether it's his cup tree with a tilapia-like fish at its foot, or his fruit basket in which maize, squash and beans live side by side, or his seafood basket in which crab, prawns and lobster compete in brilliance, Sorobabel makes these home decoration objects with an eye for detail that makes them even more realistic.

"When I moved back to Bata from my village in 2006, I was already inspired and had the desire to be a sculptor or craftsman. Even during my studies and the odd jobs I did, it lived in me, and I knew that one day I would fulfil my desire to put my creative inspirations into practice," Sorobabel tells TRT Afrika about his lifelong motivation.

Sorobabel Ntutumu Obono's miniature creations are a bid draw among his customers.

Before answering the call of the mallet, chisel, and plane, which are now his main working tools, Sorobabel had the opportunity to prove himself as a technician and mechanic in his home district of Mofono yemfen Evinayong.

His experience in the two trades strengthened Sorobabel's manual dexterity, before he eventually committed to expressing his art in wood in 2018.

'"After these professional experiences, I returned to my parents who live in Bata and I started to take up art. So, I had a lot of ideas with wood and one day I said I have to put this into practice."

"I started little by little with bamboo mugs, and from there I started to draw inspiration from others, trying each time to put finesse into my creations." he tells TRT Afrika.

To enhance the finesse of the objects, the craftsman also uses an electric sander, which is used to polish both wood and metal.

The final touches bring life to the carvings. 

When he first started out, Soro, as he is known to those close to him, says there was less public enthusiasm and encouragement towards his craft than there is today.

The artist has turned what he perceived as indifference into a source of motivation to produce even more beautiful objects and improve his sales.

"It made me stronger and I wanted to work harder and improve my work, so, I started posting my products on Facebook and on WhatsApp groups, and little by little I started getting customers."

"My experience, inspiration, and patience with work continues to grow day by day. As time goes by, I get stronger and find more inspiration to create other models that are very different from the ones I've made before," the young Equato-Guinean explains in a confident tone.

Sorobabel Ntutumu Obono's say he does not have any favourites in his carvings. 

For all his creative designs to date, even if the first work was the one that put him under a beginner's stress, Sorobabel says he has no preference.

"To this day, my experience, inspiration, interests, and peace with my work are growing by the day, and I do everything I can to apply myself down to the last centimeter in order to always offer quality work so that the whole thing is profitable," explains Sorobabel, whose work is arousing more and more admiration and curiosity.

As in almost all African countries, the art market in Equatorial Guinea has a mixed clientele.

As well as Equatorial Guineans themselves, foreign customers are currently the ones who place the most orders with artists like Sorobabel Ntutumu Obono.

TRT Afrika