Dec 01, 2018
Seventeen years ago, a community of female crafters in KwaJobe (Kwazulu-Natal), welcomed 5 young designers into their homes. Here I met MaMlambo, and took her photo outside her daughter’s rondavel, late one afternoon.
Many years later, I looked through those old photos and her face caught my attention. She looked so sad, so solemn. Perhaps it was not how she was feeling – just an ill-timed capture of a “what’s taking so long?” expression.
Today I found MaMlambo. Armed with a framed copy, I drove the four hours to KwaJobe with a friend and colleague, Sizah Mtshali, who works with me on craft trips. In a rural area with low to non-existent income, smartphones, and WhatsApp communication do not feature. I couldn’t send a photo. The only way we would find her was to visit the area. We showed the image to women we knew, and were directed to her homestead. We found her in a neighbours home, with great grandchildren, eating breakfast.
Seventeen years is a long time and those years show on the tiny frame of an elderly woman. She was pleased though. Pleased that her grandchildren would have something to remember her by. For, in her own words, “I’m ready to go home. I’ve been to heaven before, and it’s much better than here.”
And then she smiled. “I was beautiful.”
Oil on canvas
100cm x 80cm