In celebrating Youth Month, at Mash T Design Studio, we shine a spotlight on the power of intergenerational collaboration to preserve the rich heritage of indigenous crafts.
Youth Month holds a deep significance in the South African calendar, commemorating the courage of the 1976 youth who fought against an oppressive education system during the Soweto Uprising on June 16th. This month serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of empowering young minds to shape a brighter future.
We find inspiration in the story of Bab Alfred, with whom we collaborated to create the remarkable Alfred pendant. This exquisite piece is meticulously crafted using Telewire, a material steeped in history. Traditionally utilized by Zulu watchmen to express their creativity, Telewire showcases the ingenuity and artistic vision of its creators.
In Zulu culture, watchmen, also known as “Izinyanga zempi,” played a vital role in safeguarding the community. These watchmen would often spend long hours in their posts, keeping a watchful eye over the surroundings and ensuring the safety of the village.
During their shifts, they would find innovative ways to pass the time and express their artistic talents. One such practice was weaving intricate patterns using telecommunication wires. The telecommunication wires, also known as “tele wire,” were repurposed into beautiful and visually striking creations.
The Zulu artisans behind this masterpiece have taken a once-utilitarian telecommunication wire and transformed it into an emblem of adaptability and ingenuity.
Bab Alfred understood the importance of empowering youth with indigenous craft skills. Not only did he train his daughter, but he also mentored numerous young individuals. This served as his contribution to guarantee the preservation of our heritage and promote the continuity of indigenous craftsmanship. It is through projects like the Alfred pendant that we celebrate the fusion of tradition and innovation, highlighting the incredible potential within young creators.