Hours of driving through the rural back roads of KwaZulu Natal lead us to two vibrant groups of basket weavers, located about an hour from each other. We were once again escorted by a representative from Khumulani Craft, who helped to arrange the meeting. In both cases as we drove up to our meeting places, we were welcomed by singing and dancing Zulu women.
The first group of women we met with came from three villages, called Vukanathi, Zenzelemi, and Siyaphambili, who gathered together to showcase some of their baskets and to openly discuss the possibility of selling products through our stores. The second group was called Vulukhanya. As we had encountered previously during other artisan meetings, both groups of women were the sole bread winners of their families, relying on basket weaving as their main source of income. It was inspiring to hear stories of their children who had gone off to college thanks to the income earned through basket weaving.
We learned that with these groups, basket weaving is a talent passed down from mother to daughter, rather than taught in a formal classroom. Historically, the baskets were used to store grain, beer and other liquids and some basket weavers still use them for these purposes. Some baskets take up to 2-3 weeks to make, given the level of detail and the tightness of the weave. The basket weavers set their own price for each basket, and take great pride in their work.