Mogalakwena Craft Art Development Foundation

The Mogalakwena Craft Art Development Foundation (MCADF) was established in 1994 with the exclusive mission to:

  • Create employment opportunities for previously disadvantaged women and young school leavers living in what was previously known as Lebowa Tribal Trustland, now known as the northern part of the Limpopo Province, and to the west of the Blue Mountain;
  • Promote the traditional arts and crafts inherent in the communities, but which had become completely dormant due to lack of infra-structure, lack of funding and lack of market opportunities; and
  • Promote the restoration of craft art skills in this community and to enable more members of the community to become self-sufficient and less dependant on unemployment government grants and pensions.

The philosophy behind and the aim of MCADF:

In the northern part of the Limpopo Province of South Africa, between the Blue Mountain and Limpopo River, dinosaur footprints and archaeological findings are evidence of the rich and ancient history of this isolated area. This area is home to a tribal community of more than a million Pedi people. The majority of them are women, children and retired men, who for their existence are primarily dependent on meagre state pensions or contributions from husbands and fathers who labour in cities or on farms.  Many of these people are illiterate and few of them still possess basic cultural productive skills to support themselves and their children. The area lacks employment opportunities and is largely undeveloped.

During 1994, the Mogalakwena Craft Art Development Foundation (MCADF) launched a program to support the economic and social upliftment of the local community and to reduce pressure to urbanise – training, involving and employing members of the local community. 

MCADF specializes in the training of multiple skills – embroidery, beadwork, candle making, sewing, basket weaving, cement work, basic computer literacy, practical first aid courses, AIDS awareness and care, children’s art workshops and basic principles of cultural tourism.  

Its projects focus on and invest in the culture and development of the creative skills of members of the local community.  In the result, the local community benefits as a direct consequence of the Foundation’s activities and in such a way MCADF has and encourages self-respect and dignity of members of this community. This craft art village is within walking distance from the adjacent villages.

The vision of MCADF is to train and/or employ a minimum of ten new craft artists per year. As a direct consequence of space limitations, only 26 people can presently be employed. Once The Craft Art Training and Development Centre has been completed, approximately 60 people can be trained and employed.

All construction work including the refurbishment of existing buildings have to date been performed by builders and trainees employed from the local community.

Greenhaus architect, Etienne Bruwer, has been commissioned to design and supervise the development of the Mogalakwena Craft Art Village. During construction experiments with a variety of traditional building techniques, as well as combining traditional with modern materials, are performed. The focus is also on the recycling of materials, e.g. using old discarded window frames in series instead of installing a large new frame. Interest has been received from overseas architects to become involved on a voluntary basis. The development processes are documented for future research.

Brief chronology of what the MCADF has done and achievements during its 10 years of existence:

The foundation had humble beginnings in old farmhouse where unemployed people from the neighbouring Lebowa Tribal Trust Land were trained in a variety of craft art skills and their products sold to enable them to earn an income.

This training increased, continued, diversified and developed including life skills training, for example basic health and home care, first aid, AIDS care, basic literacy and communication skills as well as basic computer skills. The foundation’s training became sustainable and resulted in people growing and becoming empowered.

The Foundation started its work with two part-time craft artists and now employs 26 people on a full-time basis.  A huge escalation in orders resulted after publication of the book, ‘Craft Art in South Africa’ published by Struik/New Holland Publishers and the Foundation was compelled to employ more people.

In 1999/2000 the foundation leased bigger premises and increased in personnel, employees, and its marketing activities to the UK, USA, France, Netherlands, Australia and Canada.

No financial sponsorship was applied for or received and during its ten years of existence it was independently and privately funded.  During 2003 Mogalakwena Craft Art Development Foundation was winner of the Nedbank/Mail and Guardian Cultural Project of the Year Award. Click here to read more about the MCADF’s achievements.

List of MCADF’s achievements to date:

  • Exports on order;
  • 2001: Participation at the World Summit on Sustainable Development;
  • 2002: children from the nearby Modikwa Primary School in Radishaba Village attending a Children’s Art Workshop stencilled their designs on fabric that was sewn into a quilt and presented to Mr Nelson Mandela for his 84th birthday;
  • Sparkling Zulu Lulu angels to New York International Gift Fair;
  • 2003: National commission for Arabella Sheraton Grand Hotel in Cape Town – beaded and embroidered wall panels;
  • March 2003: Cement basins created at the Foundation are featured in July 2003 issue of House and Leisure magazine (pages 148, 149), embroidery featured in Winter 2003 issue of VISI magazine (pages 29 and 166) as well as in Beeld newspaper of 8 March 2003;
  • May 2003: Two works created during a Children’s Art Workshop were donated to The Solstice Foundation ( and the proceeds of the auctioning thereof went towards Mama Murial’s Creché in Kyalitsha, Cape Town;
  • 2003: Joint winner of Nedbank/Mail & Guardian Cultural Project of the Year Award;
  • March 2004:The Foundation was commissioned by SOURCE Brand Interior Architects to create embroidered and beaded cushion covers and a crocheted lampshade for Design Indaba Exhibition held in Cape Town;
  • 2004: MCADF featured at Citi Bank Philanthropic seminar in St Louis, USA;
  • 2004: Products taken to Tennessee showcase by Trade and Investment Limpopo;
  • 2004: Sparkling beaded angels (Zulu Lulus) to the International Folk Art Museum Shop, Sante Fe;
  • 2004: Beaded sculptures and embroidered bed and table linen bought for the newly launched Mapungubwe World Heritage Site in the Vhembe Dongola Transfrontier Park – South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe;
  • 2004: Zulu Mama chair weaving project in collaboration with furniture designer, Haldane Martin, Elle Decoration Designer of the Year. This project promises to develop and create significant job opportunities. A group of young male school leavers have been trained during November 2004;
  • 15 – 18 November 2004: First Aid/AIDS Awareness Workshop in conjunction with  Anne Harriss – Reader in Educational Development; Anne Garvey – Deputy Dean; Nessie Brooks – senior lecturer in Occupational Health Nursing – all from London  South Bank University; and Edith Smith;
  • December 2004: Five beaded and embroidered wall panels created for the newly launched Pezula Spa, Knysna, South Africa;
  • 1 December 2004 – 28 January 2005: Solo Exhibition of Bead Art  – ‘Images of Limpopo’ at Polokwane Art Gallery,  Limpopo, South Africa;
  • February 2005: Opening of The Artist’s Retreat and Studio – a refined bush retreat in Africa for creative minds;
  • 3 – 16 March 2005: We welcome our first group of 11 international artists to The Artist’s Retreat and Studio;
  • April 2005: SA Fashion Week workshop held at The Craft Art Village. 36 local craft artists working with SA designers and two lecturers from St Martin’s Design Academy, London;
  • August 2005: MCADF exhibiting at Cultural History Museum, Potchefstroom;
  • August 2005: Exhibited products at SA Fashion Week in Johannesburg and Cape Town
  • August 2005:  Exhibited at ‘One of a Kind’ show during Decorex Exhibition at Gallagher Estate;
  • Embroidered items for Tiger Brands new head office; and
  • 1 December 2005–31 March 2006:  “SYNERGY – Contemporary Bead Art Exhibition”  at The South African National Gallery.
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