African Stories

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Citrus Inspired

Posted - April 18, 2017, by Vuyisani

Every step we take in the pursuit of our different dreams affords us a chance to look deep down inside ourselves to find out what truly inspires us. Whether it is something we see or something we hope for, there has to be a drive for every force to succeed. It is for this reason that we started looking at Limpopo art hopping to find something positive and inspiring.


As African-Stories is fascinated by Elize van Zyl, a furniture maker and mom based Tzaneen, Nkowankowa, who in 2012 together with her husband started a fast growing line of furniture called Orange tree furniture.

The furniture is uniquely hand crafted from citrus wood recovered from citrus orchards on the banks of the Letaba River, in the Limpopo Province. In the past non-productive citrus trees were uprooted and then burned, so the team of Orange tree Furniture recognizing the quality of citrus wood began to manufacture handcrafted solid wood furniture.

Their exclusive range of handmade citrus wood furniture is sustainable ‘green’ products, which suggest no forests are being destroyed in their creations. It leaves a low carbon footprint, and it is a proudly environmentally friendly South African product.


The staff creating the furniture in the workshop were previously farm workers, and when Orange Tree Furniture started they were taken and taught furniture making skills such as wood crafting, joinery, painting, wood polishing and other wood perfecting skills. The advent of these newly found skills has greatly empowered them and the skills have been a revelation to all, giving them an opportunity to feed themselves and enabling them to support their families. The factory employs people from villages around Tzaneen. 

One lovely lady told me a story of how, as a child she used to fetch fire wood for her parents’ cooking and she will neatly pack them into stacks, this knowledge of packing persuaded her into liking Joining, a carpentry skill which demands patience, a good eye and care. As African Stories we are not sure how all these workers have time to work in a busy furniture factory, and have time to be a parents, spouses, friends, or just socially participating members of the large society ; but after witnessing their amazingly created furniture which is carefully and accurately aligned first hand we are glad their able to.

Orange tree Furniture has an impressive and exclusive range of home ware which compliments all areas of your home. The luxurious products includes; different types of chairs and tables, kitchen utensils, outdoor and indoor furniture.  


The inspiration to these majestic creations is the ideal of making wonderful furniture from the amazing citrus wood, weather it is yellow or painted furniture Orange Tree Furniture creations are to die for. The few workers I spoke with asserts that their inspiration is the knowledge that whoever purchase their products will receive complete consumer satisfaction and will in turn spread the good news of their lovely work. 


Their customers include schools, lodges, families, individuals or institutions interested in putting some class and style in their homes or offices.  Orange Tree Furniture aspire to be the greatest home ware producer in Limpopo and Africa as a whole, which is an ideal which fueled the African Stories’ idea to include Orange Tree Furniture into our collaboration.


 In my many meets with Elize, she opened up about her drive and principles: “My three basic principles are; “working hard”, “believing in god” and “never giving up”. These principles push me on daily basis, and make me to strive to be as big and good as I can possibly become. They are a driving force to all I do and to everything I plan to do in the future.” After witnessing the work which is being put in at the Orange Tree Factory there was no denying that she is indeed influenced by these principles and it also shows in the way her staff carry themselves; motivated and working with a smile



Apart from the many jobs and job opportunities that which the company has made possible, Elize holds that the lasting legacy for her and the company would be to reach the international market and become a major player, which is a goal that we as African-Stories think it is at arm’s length because Orange furniture is the embodiment of African heritage being preserved, sustained and carried to the next generation, with exquisite creations and furniture which creates an atmosphere of tranquility and luxury.



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