Profile of Zanele, a Mielie Artisan

Zanele was born in the beautiful village of Qamini in the Ciskei, Eastern Cape. She is one of three children and is still very close to her siblings, whom she sees once a year at Christmas time, when all the family get together at her mother’s home in Qamini.

“I was never good at languages, but always loved mathematics and sewing, she says. I was always very good with my hands and my mother, who was a seamstress, taught me to sew. I loved playing “poppie huis” (doll’s house) and we used to make our own dolls with sticks or whatever else was lying around. I was the best doll’s clothing designer in our village!” she laughs.

She moved to Cape Town in 2000 to look for work and joined our Fa-Mielie two years later. Zanele recently moved into her own brand-new home, built by the government as part of the its commitment to improve the lives of its people. Living in a brick home with proper plumbing and sanitation has made a huge difference to her and her son, Lusanele’s lives. “Lusa has his own bedroom where he can close the door and do his homework in peace and quiet.”

At Mielie we are truly lucky to have Zanele in our team – she is hardworking, draws beautifully and is very organized. She serves as our Khayelitsha co-ordinator, ensuring that everyone knows which designs to weave, checking on quality and making sure that there are enough materials.

Zanele has two sons, Lubabalo, 29 and Lusanele, 12. Lubabalo has also blessed her with three grandchildren, a boy and two girls.

Her dream for the future is to own her own successful business one day.