My aim when launching HADEDA was always to create a platform here in the UK for African artisans. With a South African mother and living myself in Tanzania, I wanted to create something that would tell the incredible stories of the women-led businesses and artists that I knew, loved and filled my own home with; to give them a global space to showcase their incredible talents and designs.
As a business we will always amplify African voices and shine a spotlight on those who use heritage craftsmanship to create not just beautiful designs, but ensure that those whose hands create them are offered viable employment and fair pay, too.
An incredible example of this is the Mogalakwena Craft and Art Development Foundation (MCADF), in the remote north-western region of the Limpopo Province, South Africa. I met with founder, Dr. Elbé Coetsee whose academic career has focussed on research into the demographic characteristics and entrepreneurial attitudes of South African craft artists. The Foundation itself centres around the 'Craft Art Village' - a central meeting place for a number of villages to provide a sustainable development programme, creating employment opportunities for rural communities and ensuring the preservation of indigenous culture and craft.
Training is provided at the foundation in a range of craft skills - from embroidery to pottery, candle making, bead work and basket weaving. There are also educational workshops for communities including practical first aid courses and AIDS awareness & care. Since its inception, the MCADF has trained more than 250 craft artists; held more than 100 craft art workshops and presented creative workshops to more than 200 pupils.
The foundation has 6 core aims that we hope to support through purchasing the products they create:
To promote traditional craft art inherent in communities, which have become dormant due to lack of infrastructure, lack of funding and/or lack of market opportunities.
To document contemporary oral culture in the Blouberg area of Limpopo.
RESTORATION OF SKILLS
To promote the restoration of craft art skills in communities and enable more members of disadvantaged communities to become self-sufficient and less dependent on social grants and pensions.
To create sustainable, value-adding employment opportunities for disadvantaged and/or unemployed women living in the villages adjacent to the Craft Art Village in Limpopo.
To nurture and develop creativity of children through workshops.
To market uniquely designed craft art products in selected South African and international retail outlets.
Which is where HADEDA comes in!
LAUNCHING THE MOGALAKWENA COLLECTION
This summer we are launching a small edit of Story Cushions from Mogalakwena - the illustrated scenes of day-to-day life tell the story of indigeous plants and animals, all through the medium of craft. The medium was first used at the foundation on larger embroidered panels as a way for women on the programme to share and document their stories that overcame any lack of literacy skills, or language barriers. Each cushion is 'signed', giving each craftswoman a sense of ownership over their creations.
We also have a range of 100% linen napkins, each delicately embroidered by hand by women at the foundation - we have 3 collections, each depicting indigenous flowers, herbs and birds.