When a retrenchment exercise kicked Hoosain Dixon out of a job he had dedicated the better parts of the last twenty-five years to, he must have felt the pangs of the proverbial descent from grace. That’s half a century of industry stewardship down the drain without even the benefit of a severance package – how he must have felt the ground quake under him.
The father of three had toiled in the hospitality industry all those years but he was now staring down the barrel as the layoff couldn’t have come at a worst possible time.
Dixon had earned just about enough to take care of himself and the needs of his family, but that was basically it. As he didn’t make much from his position, there was nothing much left by way of savings after the bills had been sorted.
Now, what can an old man possibly do to get back on his feet? Well, hardly anything like what he was to do next, I must say.
While most would crumble under sheer weight of the frustration that was now set to become the order of day, the South African found a way to channel that pent-up passion and by summoning his inner genius – one that had apparently been latent during all those years – he created something that could probably give him a new lease of life.
Robot 5; Source: Groundup
Everybody in Bridgetown and even beyond now calls Hoosain Dixon ‘Robot Man,’ and as you may have guessed it, he goes by that moniker because he built a robot that even Tony Stark would be proud of. Hell, IronMan himself might even want to consider taking a leaf from Dixon’s playbook when ringing the changes for the new Jarvis – and it all came from scrap.
Okay, that’s enough marvel – back to the story (see what I did there?)
Yes, it does sound crazy but that’s pretty much what the 50-year-old did. He may have lost his job and with it his financial security, but somehow, he still found the courage to connect with what used to be more or less a boyish hobby. And what a fine piece of work he whipped up in the end!
It appears Dixon had always had an attraction for taking things apart and putting them back together from a very young age.
“I have been good with my hands since I was a young boy of eight. I would fix old toys and even put together old broken dolls. You see the field over there? That is where I get my scrap. Every single thing I used for the R5 I got at the dumping site. Even the 350 screws I used to put him together, I got at the dumping site,” says Dixon.
Incredulous! Isn’t it just incredible how scrapyards and dumpsites are best known to hold large heaps of discarded rubbish, and yet there are those ones who find a way to give that rubbish a whole new meaning? Well, that’s pretty much the Hoosain Dixon story.
He would go to the scrapyard, salvage discarded parts and bring it back home. Returning from those trips, many would make gestures at him as though he were a scavenger who was now headed to ‘senile street.’ But he was to have the last laugh in the end when all that work saw him put together a creation he calls ‘Robot 5’ or ‘R5.’
On that scrap-covered table in front of his home in Bridgetown, he measured, cut, trimmed, smoothened, glued and screwed. It was nothing like any task he had undertaken in the past twenty-five years but it brought back familiar feelings of serenity and peace – ones that came from working with one’s hands. And when it was all done, there was his creation standing tall, filling every hollow that may have been left behind by the unfortunate job loss.
He built the statuesque robot from common items like shoe straps, pieces of rubber, an empty lipstick container, and parts of a thrashed car door. He even went on to fit the eyes and chest of his robot, R5, with lights. The whole thing took him a little over two months to build.
Dixon hasn’t been able to land another job since his last one but building robots helps him keep busy and make some money to support his family. He sometimes takes positions at shopping malls with the robot and since mall-goers are often taken by the sight, he gets around R5 or R10 for every picture request with the robot. More so, Dixon has managed to sell two of his robots for far more significant sums.
He hopes to feature his work in exhibitions or shows in the future, as well as improve on his engineering so as to give the robots some sort of arm, leg, or body movement – just as he had done with the lightings on the eyes and chest of the robot which are all functional.
Hoosain Dixon found himself with plenty time on his hands and not much to do with it after losing his job, but instead of delving into a life of vice and crime as is the case for most of the unemployed in his locale, he found a new meaning for his life in building robots.
He hopes to engineer a change in the neighbourhood which will see youngsters take up responsible roles that will be beneficial to them and the rest of the community even in the absence of organized employment.
Featured Image Courtesy: News24
Have a similar story to tell? or want to get featured? Connect with us on [email protected]
9500+ subscribers are getting our free newsletter on African technology, startups and innovators bi-weekly.
Made with ❤ in Africa