Here at The Curious Tour, we are proud supporters of The Mdukatshani Craft Project. It is an organization that employs local craftswomen in Msinga, who together have formed an extraordinary community that offers the possibility of economic independence and self-sufficiency in one of the harshest, arid rural areas in South Africa. Discover the exquisite objects created at Mdukatshani “the place of lost grasses” and support the Mdukatshani Craft Project.
Behind the Scenes
The craftswomen who create the gifts available at The Curious Tour work from home in their respective villages, honoring their traditions of staying close to their families. They are usually the highest earners in the community and almost half of them are widows. Some of these talented women specialize in making jewelry while others work with fine gauge industrial wire to produce beaded eggs, bangles, and decorative vessels. The traditions of wirework in South Africa go back almost 1,000 years. As masters of these traditions, current Mdukatshani artisans have created jewelry worn by renowned celebrities such as Aretha Franklin, Elton John, Paloma Picasso as well as two haute couture collections for world famous designer, Yves Saint Laurent.
Mdukatshani is located in the hills of Msinga in KwaZulu-Natal, a province in South Africa. The organization started in 1964 as a Church Agricultural Project (CAP), under the auspices of Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches. The initial focus was primarily to be a cattle co-operative and dairy industry to benefit local African residents with training and skills in animal husbandry and land conservation.
The organization was shaped amidst years of difficulty that involved ongoing conflicts between local factions, physical hardships and political impasses. By 1984, the land conservation and reclamation practices established earlier began to yield success.
In the 1990s the CAP organization was reorganized into three separate Trusts to reflect the different parts of the project. CAP became The Mdukatshani Rural Development Trust, Mdukatshani Craft and Welfare Trust, and the CAP Trust which owns a 6,250-acre farm.
A good friend, Marisa Fick-Jordaan from Zenzulu, introduced us to this project. Mdukatshani, as we know it today, exists as a three-fold organization dedicated to the building and care of livestock herds (goats, cattle and chickens), the education of youth and practicing farmers, and the development and support of crafts employing many women in the community.
Today, the Mdukatshani craftswomen and artisans create some of the beautiful, unique gifts available at The Curious Tour. Fifty percent of all Curious Tour proceeds, in addition to funds from other supporters, assist in creating opportunities for participants to become self-sufficient and financially stable.