Crafting Africa

2009-10-10 00:00

ANYONE who’s ever thought African crafts shouldn’t be compared with fine art should take a closer look at the stunning map of Africa created by 200 beaders from Hillcrest and the Valley of a Thousand Hills.

The Woza Moya income-generation project at the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust was commissioned by Ethekwini Municipality to create this stunning four-metre high and three-metre wide artwork, titled Dreams for Africa, which will hang in the Presidential Atrium of Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium during the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Its creation was a “leap of faith” for both the municipality and the crafters as no one had yet attempted to make a beadwork creation on this scale before. That faith has been richly rewarded.

Carol Brown, who is curating the public art project for Ethekwini, said she is stunned by the end product. “It looks fabulous and will be in a prominent place [in the stadium] where it will be seen by world leaders, tourists, David Beckham … and I hope it leads to similar projects and that the centre can become world famous through this,” she said.

Explaining how the map was made, Woza Moya spokeswoman Claudia Krumhof said the work is essentially a giant patchwork quilt, the overall design of which incorporates the hopes, dreams and vision of the crafters, with the finer details and images on each piece coming from the creator’s imagination.

Each of the 200 beaders involved in the project was given a portion of the design to make, using appropriately coloured glass beads; then the individual patches were sewn on to a mesh metal frame in the shape of Africa. The project took a little over eight weeks to complete, with the final two-and-half weeks being spent sewing the patches together.

The finished map was unveiled on Wednesday during a special event at the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust in Old Main Road, Hillcrest, which included a traditional Zulu blessing by sangomas Joyce Mthetwa and Buselaphi Xaba.

Speaking at the ceremony, Woza Moya craft co-ordinator Paula Thomson said it is hard to believe that just seven years ago Woza Moya consisted of a bucket, a drawer and a filing cabinet.

“It has since grown into a garage, but our survival has depended on experimentation and trying something new each week. We would take on things that no one else was mad enough to do,” she added. “But if you told me seven years ago I’d be presenting a beaded map to the city of Durban, I’d have laughed.

“Ethekwini entrusted us with this commission even though we had only previously made craft and jewellery. It was a leap of faith and I thank them for giving us this opportunity. It’s not every day that 200 people get the chance to make something like this.”

THE Woza Moya income-generation project is one of many initiatives of the Hillcrest Aids Centre Trust, a faith-based ministry that has grown to become a multifaceted HIV and Aids project.

The aim of the project is to empower and uplift people infected with and affected by HIV or Aids to become economically self-sufficient through the production of crafts within their own environment.

The crafters’ beaded items, ceramics, wirework, crochet work, fabric painting and sewing are sold through the Woza Moya shop at the centre at 26 Old Main Road, Hillcrest.

Through craft alone, over 150 families are supported with a regular income.

The Woza Moya shop is open Monday to Friday from 8 am to 4 pm and on Saturdays between 8 am and noon.

For more information about the trust and its many projects, phone 031 765 5866.


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