South Africa – Part III, “Magnificent Mielie”
April 25, 2011 § Leave a comment
Here is part 3 of Nadine’s recent adventures to South Africa!
Take it away, Nadine!
On our third work day we had the privilege of joining Adri, founder of Mielie, on a visit to the township where most of the hooked rugged weavers live and work. Khayelitsha is the largest informal township in the Western Cape. It’s located on the Cape Flats outside of Cape Town. The name is Xhosa for “New Home”.
We first met at Mielie’s home base in Newlands Village at the Montebello Design Center. I encourage anyone visiting Cape Town to check out Montebello. It’s a collective of art studios and stores and cafes – wood working, weaving, print making, jewelry, an organic café, tea house and more. Mielie not only has its work studio on the premises but also its flagship store. The best day to visit is Thursdays so you can meet weavers who are in and trading their finished pieces for new materials.
Adri is a beautiful woman both inside and out. Her creative energy is abundant and she has dedicated her career to creating Mielie and training her staff so that they have access to marketable skills and employment.
In Khayelitsha, we were met by Zanele. She is a manager and weaver and is one of the most senior employees at Mielie. She is based on the south west side of the township and oversees the pod of weavers in that area. When someone has a question about a design or color, Zanele knows how to make it right.
Her home is newly constructed three-room cinder block shack. She waited years to be granted the ownership of the plot of land, built the house with saved and subsidy money and then waited another year to receive access to electricity (notice the pay-as-you-go system above her hot plate). Sinuka is her young son who lives with her and attends the local school. We did not get to meet him but she spoke so highly of his achievements both in and out of school. She is a proud mother and a proud member of Mielie!
I was very impressed with the newly planted organic seeds at Zanele’s house. She is hoping to have an abundant garden growing in a few months.
We visited another weaver who was busy working in her living room on an Orbit Cube.
Back at Montebello, we caught up with beautiful Sheila. She has worked for Mielie for over five years and is the store manager. She shared with us how Mielie has given her opportunities she never dreamed of having like going on an airplane to travel overseas for her work and being able to merchandise and sell beautiful products.
Be Sweet is proud to have worked with Adri and the Mielie Family for over eight years.
Learn more at http://fa.mielie.com/.