Passion for weaving keeps grannies alive and occupied

20 Nov, 2021 - 00:11 0 Views
Passion for weaving keeps grannies alive and occupied Gogo Sibongile Hlongwane from Filabusi with some of her products

The Chronicle

Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Chronicle Reporter
WHILE age has taken a toll on them, robbing them of the strength to vigorously do various chores, their weaving and handcrafting skills have not fallen victim to the passage of time.

These grannies continue to weave various products that include grass mats (amacansi), baskets, table mats, door mats, hats among others. They sell some of the products made with great precision and give others to family members and friends as gifts.

Some of the old-timers are unable to move around to collect the reeds and other raw materials which they use to make the products but this has not stopped them from doing what they know best. Their grandchildren have been recruited to collect the reeds on their behalf.

Most people have either received a woven grass mat (icansi) or basket from grannies as a gift, but they sometimes fail to see their relevance.

With fragile legs that can barely carry her around Gogo Sibongile Hlongwane (72) from Filabusi area weaves away all day long.

She occasionally stops to eat, rest or take a nap. On a good sunny day, she takes her mat and sits underneath a tree in her yard which she uses as a work station. As the hours go by, she occasionally shifts her mat to remain under the shade of the tree.

While she cannot weave as fast as she used to, Gogo Hlongwane does not lose heart or tire. For her completing a product is a great victory and achievement.

Gogo Hlongwane attained her handcrafting skills while she was young and it remains one of the few things that she can still do well given her age and fragile body.

“My legs are now giving me a problem and I can’t work like I used to. This has however, not stopped me from weaving different products.

I learnt the skill of weaving more than 30 years ago. I used to make a number of products while I was strong and I would sell them. I can’t make a lot of products like I used to but for me it’s no longer about making business but it’s all about doing something that I love and keeping myself busy. It’s also about blessing my loved ones with a gift that

I would have made out of love,” she said.

“I have made a lot of weaved products during my time that I have even lost count. It gives me pride and joy that I’m able to make these products and share them with my family and friends. Some of these products are for my personal use. I make amacansi, ingcebethu, amakhomane among other products.”

Gogo Lydia Moyo (78) from Mbembeswana area said she has eight grandchildren and she had given each of them a reed mat as a gift. She said whenever she weaves products for her grandchildren, she takes her time and thinks of the best design which can come to her mind.

For Gogo Moyo, weaving is an art which requires one to be creative in order to come out with a good design. She now mainly makes grass mats.

She said the art of making a grass mat is knowing how to combine different colours. Gogo Moyo said it was also important to collect good quality reeds.

“I now mainly make grass mats and occasionally, small baskets. I use reeds and strands to make them. A grass mat can be made from reeds and strands of one colour but to come out with a beautiful product it’s important to use different colours of strands. When combining strands, I first check whether the colours can blend. I also use my creative skills to see how best to combine the colours so that I don’t have too much of one colour,” Gogo Moyo said.

“It’s also important to select good reeds as they contribute towards the appearance of the mats.”

Gogo Hilda Ncube (76) said her grandchildren know just how much she loves weaving and sometimes they help her by collecting reeds which she dries before making her products.

She said sometimes when her grandchildren are not around, she could not make her grass mats as she could not collect reeds on her own.

For Gogo Ncube, weaving is a great way to keep herself occupied. She practices barter trade, exchanging some of her products for food or clothes.

It is her desire to pass her weaving skills to her children, grandchildren and young people in her community but they are not interested.

“I would love to gather these youngsters and pass this skill to them but they are pre-occupied with other things.

Youngsters of today love technology. Whenever I try to call them for lessons, they say these grass mats no longer fit into their modern-day lifestyle. Weaving is part of our tradition and it’s important for the youngsters to be taught this skill so that they can pass it on,” she said. — @DubeMatutu

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