Too many travellers to South Africa remark on a lack of availability of cultural and traditional arts and crafts to take back home with them; instead finding only burgeoning super malls offering universal brands and products already easily accessible back home or online.
Offering up the cultural richness of South Africa’s indigenous people, Hayward’s Grand Safari Company has, through is corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative CeliainAfrica.com stimulated the production of finely beaded handbags and hand-tooled Safari travel bags designed in the tradition of the Ndebele women of the region.
A collective of modest artisans, these women have been traditionally creating crafts through fine bead art for decades. Now, their bespoke art pieces are finding new homes in Europe, Asia and America through managed development and dynamic tourism interactions to live on and serve as an evocative memory of Africa’s great beauty for those purchasing a bespoke piece.
Says Hayward’s Production Executive, Celia du Preez: “Hayward’s Grand Safari Company serves sustainability through environmental awareness with its Big 5 Grand Safaris, I felt there was a need to empower and uplift communities living in and around these remote wilderness areas, so their cultural knowledge and traditions could be safeguarded. I believe through the production of traditional crafts, Africa’s rural artisans continue the seam of the nation’s pride, and their artistic production still has the power to cause change within society.”
Celia du Preez brings a wealth of knowledge – and heart – to her passion for Africa’s art dynamic following many years of personal travel both locally and globally. Born in Namibia and unequivocally an adventure seeker she says she is most inspired when she climbs into the Hayward Safari Land Rover and disappears over the horizon, in search for those artisans in rural areas that are keeping Africa’s cultural and historical arts alive.
“I look for the pulse of the region and the heartbeat of the community, the local artisans, the storytellers and elders of a village, the sacred values of the area and the inspiration for what is created or traded. My Africa is the place where the Baobab trees grow 6 000 years old, waterfalls cure diseases, where a 101-year-old Grave Keeper still stands guard at ancient Royal Burial sites and where paying respect to a sacred lake means looking at it through your legs.
“On my journeys of discovery I marvel how the artists and artisans in these areas, sometimes travel for miles to get supplies. It’s quite extraordinary how powerful imagination and creativity really is. A simple beaded bracelet can take several hours to string together into a pattern that is enticing for the eye of the consumer. For instance, the intricate beadwork our artisans painstakingly stitch onto our beautifully handcrafted leather bags take days and an abundance of patience – something we don’t always understand or fully appreciate in our modern and overly-rushed world. It is here I find the value of life in its most simplistic form. We brush off this type of intense focus and passion as unimportant. Through this craftwork, time itself is manufactured and presented to you, the recipient, in a handcrafted piece, immersed in an age-old history of song, dance, skill sharing and social dynamics. Is this not true wealth?