CSI intiative stimulates cultural ‘gold’ of South African artisans

Feb 25 2018

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.”

Africa’s Pulse
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 of 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.

“In Africa, storytelling lives on.”

Artistic Persistence
“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?

Intergenerational Skills Share
“Today, these artists, artisans and village elders want to pass their knowledge and crafting skills, family and cultural traditions onto the younger generations so they may have the freedom to continue to express themselves through the arts in all its forms while being able to make a living. This is what www.celiainafrica.com supports, as the CSI arm of Hayward’s Grand Safari Company it is the artist – the one who still has pride, is still productive and is still causing change in society – that is who we want to uplift and encourage.

“Ultimately that is why I love travelling so much. It moves me into unfamiliar places and new realms and ways of looking at ‘raw’ living. We are all too protected in our precious, built up worlds, with all the safety nets we have created in society, that a whole life can go by without us peeking into others.

“In Africa, storytelling lives on.  And it is in the stories of its women who uphold and strengthen the greater community. In true African tradition, you can learn more about a person’s life sitting around a crackling fire, than a lifetime spent in the boardroom.  African time is not necessarily about punctuality because time is not a consideration here.  It is about the priority of events and what is happening at any given moment – this is the seam of gold that runs through Africa’s heart of the artisan. We wish to take this creativity with us into the future, so it can continue to grow and develop dynamically with each generation.”

Visit www.celiainafrica.com to view the range of beaded, hand-crafted African bags which sustain a collective of African cultural artisans through their arts and craft. Guests booking a #GrandSafari event or expedition have access to this same range and the artists themselves via themed evenings, workshops and cultural interactions which form part of the Hayward’s Sacred Safari’s experience. Visit www.haywardsafaris.com to book your authentic African Safari to some of the remotest wilderness areas in Africa.