A colourful drawing of a lush potted plant adorns the front entrance to the cement block house of Mamvundle and her husband Philemon Sajini Moshoeshoe in Kuyasa, Khayelitsha. It serves as a metaphor for her creative and financial growth since joining Monkeybiz in 2000.
Born and raised in Qumbu in the Transkei, Mamvundle learnt traditional Xhosa beading from her mother. Even so, she found switching to a more contemporary style quite challenging. “In the beginning I was very afraid I would make a mistake. But now I’m much more confident; I’m doing great!” The sophistication of her large beaded animals reflects her progress.
Growing up beading with her mother, she could never in her wildest dreams have imagined a project like Monkeybiz. “Hayi! We used to wear traditional beaded bracelets in the Transkei, but no one thought you could turn this into a business. When Monkeybiz found me and Philemon, we were very poor. Now we’re managing to save some money because most of our five children have left home. We still look after the youngest, Simthembile; at least we can afford to pay the school fees. Our neighbours in Kuyasa have all become interested in doing beadwork, so in our free time we’re teaching many of them.”