Date:11 February 2019 - By: Tshifhiwa Mukwevho
At the age of 73, Ms Kokwana Sophia Baloyi has become an institution in the world of beadwork and other artistic practices that are part of the rich Xitsonga culture and African culture at large.
Baloyi resides at Bokisi village, where she does beadwork in the comfort of her home. She is an excellent beadmaker of traditional jewellery and accessories and she creates intricate symbolic patterns on traditional calabashes, wedding baskets, walking sticks and hats.
“This kind of beading takes a lot of patience, skill, time and concentration,” she said. “Without patience and determination, one cannot survive in this kind or work. Today, people are always in a hurry and are not willing to sit down and focus, and they cannot manage to do the kind of art which I excel at.”
She told Limpopo Mirror that, since she was orphaned as a toddler and had to grow up in her aunt’s employer’s place, she had to help the aunt with housekeeping and that was where she also learned traditional handwork, such as beading and embroidery.
“What I love about my work is that it gives one a good heart – one that is sewn with strings of patience,” she said. “I learned from my art that the more I do it, the better I get at problem solving as well.”
Baloyi, who returned to full-time beading at the age of 60 for subsistence reasons, said that she felt that she had lived a happy and fulfilled life ever since she had embraced art.
“I have created beadworks of great note through the decades, and I sold most of the art pieces to people from different backgrounds,” she said. “More exposure for my art came when my neighbour, who happens to be internationally acclaimed artist Luck Ntimani, introduced me to Madi a Thavha. I displayed my work at Madi a Thavha, and more and more art lovers viewed and bought my art.”
Some of her amazing creations include beaded baskets, salt peri-peri cans and snack baskets that are so beautiful that many people love to hang them in various colour or pattern compositions on their walls.
“People who know how to weave are also disappearing since the local demand for woven products is not as high as it used to be in the olden days – plastic bowls are cheaper and more durable but not beautiful art works,” she said. “I have taught some of my granddaughters beading, so that it does not completely disappear.”
During the workshops at Madi a Thavha, Baloyi had learned how to use heritage-based techniques and materials to make contemporary products, based on the latest design and colour trends, for tourists and interior decorators.
“She was very excited when we gave her new colour combinations to decorate the baskets and she immediately started experimenting,” said Madi a Thavha's Marcelle Bosch. “We are happy to be of assistance to artists such as gogo Sophia.”
Baloyi can be phoned on 076 694 0580.
Ms Sophia Baloyi is busy doing the kind of work that adds value and happiness to her life. Photo: Madi a Thavha.
By: Tshifhiwa Mukwevho
Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho was born in 1984 in Madombidzha village, not far from Louis Trichardt in the Limpopo Province. After submitting articles for roughly a year for Limpopo Mirror's youth supplement, Makoya, he started writing for the main newspaper. He is a prolific writer who published his first book, titled A Traumatic Revenge in 2011. It focusses on life on the street and how to survive amidst poverty. His second book titled The Violent Gestures of Life was published in 2014.