With the help of two male pottery teachers who guided them and helped to market their products, the all-female team at the bustling Sincede Women’s Project in Mdantsane township, East London, is beginning to shine. Their crafts are on sale at the local art centre, and the bigger retail outlets are now paying attention.

Did you know?

The Mdantsane Art Centre also houses a school for a group of talented pantsula dancers.

When you go on a tour of Mdantsane township outside East London, look out for the Mdantsane Art Centre, where they make a soccer boot that is a vuvuzela trumpet that is also a little teapot.

Simply ideal for the Mad Hatter’s Birthday Party and other eccentric occasions, the Vuvu Boot Pot is the creation of Loyiso Victor Mzileni, one of the guiding lights over at the Sincede Women’s Project.

Mzileni and his friend Gqitani ‘Rasta’ Buyisile are teaching a group of 10 local women the finer points of ceramic sculpture. Mzileni is also the marketing manager for the Sincede Women’s Project, and is in talks with a garden centre (to make pottery frogs) and a church (for their madonna and child figurines).

Nomonde Vanqa, a vibrant woman with a colourful head scarf and a twinkle in her eye, is busy compiling a mosaic from broken pieces of glass. What will it be?

'Well, I truly don’t know,' she replies. 'Something seems to be developing here. Maybe a Christmas tree?'

As part of the Eastern Cape Arts and Crafts Hub, this project was given a substantial financial shot in the arm in 2009. But, says Vanqa, it’s time for them to become self-sustaining.

'I think we in the townships tend to have a victim mentality, and we need to break out of it. We need to take this project further by ourselves.'

Today, Buyisile is at the back of the studio, quietly working on his bust of a rather fierce Xhosa warrior. Around him sit the rest of the women, concentrating deeply on their beadwork.

On the display table, you will see ducks, fairies, and salt and pepper shakers in the forms of elephants, huts and kneeling women. Also Xhosa clay pots and artfully shaped cutlery holders. And ceramic frogs, lots of frogs…

Travel tips & Planning info

Related articles