Mdantsane is a unique, vibrating, eclectic, African place. Follow us on a pilgrimage to Mdantsane to discover the street culture, fashion, food, people, music, homes, taverns, humor, businesses, history and what's hot in the second biggest township in South-Africa, located close to the city of East London in the Province of the Eastern Cape. Join us on this journey while we capture the spirit of this amazing place for you in the here and in the now. We are going to introduce you to many individuals, artists, musicians, groups and associations.
They are the HEROES OF DAILY LIFE. They are the people who create, innovate and improve their life and their stories deserve to be told. This is a place for only good and positive stories of humanity, that will send out a message of courage, endurance and strength to the world through their pictures and words.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The African Doll Maker

A Story of Entrepreneurial Spirit and Courage

Unemployment is the biggest problem in South Africa and the factor, that contributes the most to the high crime rate in this country and to many other social problems that come with it. All the townships in South Africa experience a great influx of people from the rural areas, who come to town to make money. Often without success
But there are also other stories - of the ones who go back to where they came from to be successful there.

Traditional Rag Dolls Sold At The Side Of A National Road In The Eastern Cape

I was in a rather dreamy mood, when I heard my brother shout "oh wow" look at these nice dolls.

The African Doll Maker And Her Beautiful Creations

We were driving down a National Road from Port Elizabeth on our way back to East London at 140 km per hour. Brakes, full U-turn and a couple of hundred meters back ! 

An Expression Of Strength And Kindness

And there, by the side of the road we meet an elderly woman, whom I call  "The African Doll Maker" and who has impressed me deeply.

Life In The Village Is Not too Bad, She Says

She speaks barely English. 
But I understood, she makes dolls from waste material and rags and tries to sell them to the people, who pass by to earn a living. 
Where she lives is where she sells.
 At the side of the National Road close to the village of Chalumna. 
And yes, she has been to Mdantsane but then she decided to go back to her own village.

Coming Back To The Village To Make A Living.....

Her dolls represent adult Xhosa Women in their traditional attire. They are true masterpieces of recycling and creativity. An empty two liter plastic Fanta or Coca Cola bottle filled with gravel stones or sand constitutes the body. The traditional Xhosa dress is sewn by hand from rags and fabric off-cuts.The head is stuffed and then painted on by hand.

The  Road Is A Good Place To Be

Her's is the true spirit of an entrepreneur, that can not be discouraged by the environment she lives in. A table at the side of the road covered by a clean table-cloth is all the shop equipment she has.
That day I learned again: disadvantages can be turned into advantages by approaching them differently.
" The road is a good place", she says with a smile on her face.

There she is and her dolls are doing her proud

Her Dolls Are Doing Her Proud And Express Her Xhosa Origin

The Spirit Of African Entrepreneurship - Never Give Up.... It might take a long time but never give up

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Throughout South-Africa you will find a sign saying : NO HAWKERS ALLOWED HERE!

But hawking or trading in the streets is simply another way of earning an income through the informal market.
Although there are Hawkers Associations in South Africa not all the vendors belong to one and rather prefer to stay on their own. Trading on the streets is like the blood that flows through the veins of Africa.
It's a long day job and there is always time for a laugh.

For sale here are potatoes and pumpkins. The writing on the bags is in English and Africans.


I do agree.



And again for others it is still more complicated. To make a living this man digs through the trash and garbage bins at a petrol station in search for food and other things that he can use .


Unemployment in South Africa is the plight of many.

After 16 years of independence the great majority of country's population has still a heavy burden to carry.

Waiting for a day job at street corners and close to traffic lights

seems for many the only solution.


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