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Acornhoek, Mpumalanga, South Africa

Art and Craft Guide - Mpumalanga Lowveld, South Africa

Guide was researched and developed by Rhian Twine and Alex Scholtz. Photos by Alex Scholtz. Mapping by Andrew Scholtz.

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Difficulty: Moderate
Duration: Full day
Family Friendly
 
Overview: The production and sale of arts and crafts provides a viable source of income to combat poverty in rural South Africa and reflects the country's rich cultural diversity.

Traditional skills are applied to both traditional materials - beads, leather, wood, clay and grass, and everyday materials - copper wire, plastic bags, glass and bottle tops.

This area of the Mpumalanga Lowveld, bordering the Kruger National Park and a number of private game farms, falls within the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region, a biosphere region recognised under the UNESCO (United Nations Educations, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) Man and the Biosphere Programme and is traditionally home to the Vatsonga or Tsonga people. The Vatsonga include Shangaans (Vachangana), Thonga and Tonga and a number of smaller ethnic groups.

This guide provides information about Vatsonga artists and crafters in area and the objects of art or craft that they produce and sell. The points of interest on the map are provided to give you an indication of where the craft stops are situated and GPS co-ordinates are given for each of these stops. Set your GPS or map software (e.g. Google Maps or Bing Maps) accordingly. Interestingly we have found that Bing Maps handles directions using GPS co-ordinates a little better than does Google Maps. GPS co-ordinates are provided in both decimal and degrees/minutes/seconds for your convenience.

You can also download this guide to your smart phone to help you navigate to a particular stop. 3G coverage from Vodacom is good in the area, Cell C does not have much coverage here to talk about. I am not sure about the coverage of the other service providers, but will update this guide as and when information becomes available.

New crafters will be added to this guide periodically as they are discovered. Please come back from time to time to see who has been to this guide.

The area has an interesting history, including the appearance of one João Albasini, a Portuguese trader of Italian descent, who was made an honorary tribal leader of the Shoshangaans in the middle 1800s. The Shangaan ethnic group of the Vatsonga are of Zulu origin, descendants of the Zulu warriors sent by King Shaka, under the command of Soshangana (Manukosi), to conquer the Tsonga people.

A number of the links accompany this guide deal with the history and ethnography of this area and make for interesting reading. These links can be found in the column to the right of this text - below the map and information about the author and weather - under the heading "Other Resources".


Tips: The reason for describing this guide as "moderately difficult" has to do with both roads and language.

Roads: The tar roads are potholed - more so after rain in summer. The dirt or gravel roads are corrugated. There are few fences and animals wander freely into the path of oncoming vehicles. Driving standards are not great, so beware of cars on the wrong side of the road when least expected.

Language: The owners of most of the craft enterprises along this route do not speak English, although it is likely that some of the younger generation will be able to help out in this regard. We intend to add languages spoken by traders to points of interest in the near future.

Informal Trading: All of the enterprise owners are informal traders. They do not sit around and wait for passing trade and often have to travel to market their goods or get supplies. It is best to phone ahead if you want to visit a particular informal trader. Remember to have a local language speaker on hand if you phone.

Numbering Points of Interests: We have tried to number points of interests with respect to distance from Acronhoek. Number order does not necessarily mean the order in which traders should be visited.

Identifying Sites: The photographs provided with each point of interest will help you identify the trader, the trader's site and the art or craft offered by each trader.

Identifying Junctions Junctions are often hard to find. A photograph accompanies each junction to help you navigate to a particular trader.

Photography: There is a wealth of opportunity for photography. Remember that it is always a good idea to ask permission to photograph people before doing so. People here are extremely poor and you may be asked for a donation in return for taking a photograph of them.

Points of Interest

Junction
map

Acornhoek T-junction

This Guide starts at Acornhoek, but you can start from anywhere in the area, just key in the co-ordinates of the crafter you want to visit into you GPS or smart phone maps application.

GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.59944; 31.04646) (S24°35'57.98" E31°2'47.26")
Shopping
map

Sina Ngobeni

Trader: Sina Ngobeni
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.595057; 31.062080) (S24°35'42.21" E31°3'43.49")
Tel: 076 024 2661 or 073 910 7939
eMail: sinangobeni@gmail.com
Products: Sina Ngobeni, supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), has started a small craft shop in Acornhoek, where she sells traditional pots, shields, drums, clothing, beads etc.
map

Mr Mhlongo

Trader: Mr Mhlongo
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.59555556; 31.06354722) (S24°35'44.00" E31° 3'48.77")
Products: Woven Baskets
Shopping
map

Florence Mathebula

Trader: Florence Mathebula
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.636916; 31.080488) (S24°35'44.52" E31°3'49.57")
Tel: 076 459 5090
Products: Shoes, xibelani (traditional dancing attire) and brooms
Landmark
map

Acornhoek Market

A bustling market in the centre of Acornhoek.
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.636916; 31.080488) (S24°35'46.08" E31°3'52.16")
Traders: Elite: Walter, Nomsa and Phyllis
Shopping
map

Elite: Walter

Trader: Elite: Walter
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.636916; 31.080488) (S24°35'46.08" E31°3'52.16")
Tel: 078 234 2611
Products: Makarapi
Shopping
map

Nomsa and Phyllis

Trader: Nomsa and Phyllis
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.636916; 31.080488) (S24°35'46.08" E31°3'52.16")
Products: Tishwatitshwati, Rasta scarves and hats

Food/Dining
map

Anjo's Flame-Grilled Chicken

GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.59832; 31.07004) (S24°35'53.95" E31°4'12.14")

A good place to stop for a meal. Licensed to sell alcohol.
Junction
map

Central Acornhoek Traffic Light

GPS Co-rdinates: (-24.59832; 31.07004) (S24°35'53.95" E31°4'12.14")

Sometimes works and sometimes doesn't! Treat as a 4-way stop if not working and watch out for other cars and pedestrians.

Left for Rebecca Chiloane
Right for Jeanette Ndlovu and Alvinah Mathebula
Straight on for the rest of the traders.
Shopping
map

Rebecca Chiloane

Trader: Rebecca Chiloane
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.636916; 31.080488) (S24°36'2.64" E31°4'10.81")
Tel: 078 578 1889
Products: Bead work and pottery
Junction
map

Turn-off to Jeanette Ndlovu

GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.59312; 31.08661)(S24°35'35.23" E31°5'11.80")
Shopping
map

Jeanette Ndlovu

Trader: Jeanette Ndlovu
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.636916; 31.080488) (S24°35'35.23" E31°5'11.80")
Tel: 083 740 7775
Products: Wonderboxes and amazing shade-cloth backpacks
map

Alvinah Mathebula (and daughter Delani)

Trader: Alvinah Mathebula
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.5739; 31.107225) (S24°34'26.04" E31° 6'26.01")
Tel: 083 413 9197 (Alvinah)
Tel: 071 959 9510 (Delani)
Products: Reed mats
Food/Dining
map

Ethiopian Restaurant

Restauranteer: Jabi
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.59989; 31.07301) (S24°35'59.60" E31°4'22.84")
Tel: 084 451 3700
Products: Good wholesome food - often with a vegetarian option.
Junction
map

Junction to Dingleydale

GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.60568; 31.08749) (S24°37'5.20" E31°9'19.99")

Turn right here for Mapusha Weavers and Agnes Nxumalo
Shopping
map

Mapusha Weavers

Trader: Mapusha Weavers (Catholic Mission)
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.622725; 31.0891) (S24°37'21.81" E31° 5'20.76")
Tel: Wonder: 072 691 0021
Products: Weaving, bags and mobiles
Other Resources
Mapusha Weavers
Junction
map

Junction to Rooiboklaagte

GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.62548; 31.08912) (S24°37'31.73" E31°5'20.83")

Turn right for Agnes Nxumalo
Other Resources
Rooiboklaagte Village
Shopping
map

Agnes and Susan Nxumalo

Trader: Agnes Nxumalo
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.636916; 31.080488) (S24°38'12.90" E31°4'49.76")
Tel: 073 860 5526
Products: Pottery and reed mats

Trader: Susan Nxumalo
Products: Crotchets shoes
Shopping
map

Peter Mgwena

Trader: Peter Mgwena
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.607478; 31.097909) (S24°36'26.92" E31°5'52.47")
Tel: 083 237 7277
Products: Sculptor and painter
Shopping
map

Solomon Sithole

Trader: Solomon Sithole
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.605352; 31.104569) (S24°36'19.27" E31°6'16.45")
Tel: 078 017 5824
Products: Solomon makes zinc baths, watering cans, plant pots, trunks – anything you want in zinc!
Junction
map

Junction to Thulamahashe

GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.61803; 31.15551) (S24°37'4.91" E31°9'19.84")

Turn right for the rest of the traders.
Shopping
map

July Zitha

Trader: July Zitha
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.676102; 31.177291) (S24°40'33.97" E31°10'38.25")
Tel: 072 826 6347
Products: Tyre shoes and tyre swings
Junction
map

Junction to Agincourt, Newington and Kildare

GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.72383; 31.20971) (S24°43'25.79" E31°12'34.96")

Keep straight for the Thulamahashe Taxi Rank Market and Thulisile in Thulamahashe.

Left for Agincourt, Newington and Kildare
Landmark
map

Thulamahashe Taxi Rank

GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.72559; 31.21006) (S24°43'32.12" E31°12'36.22")

Sasol filling station, snack shop and market where you will find Grace and Louisa.
Shopping
map

Grace Ngumana

Trader: Grace Ngumana
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.725595; 31.210061) (S24°43'32.14" E31°12'36.22")
Tel: 082 644 7707
Products: Scarves and beads
Shopping
map

Louza Timane

Trader: Louza Timane
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.725595; 31.210061) (S24°43'32.14" E31°12'36.22")
Tel: 073 979 3819
Products: Xibelani (traditional dancing attire), cloth and beads
Shopping
map

Thulisile

Trader: Thulisile
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.724896; 31.199289) (S24°43'29.63" E31°11'57.44")
Products: Xibelani (traditional dancing attire), clothes and bracelets
Shopping
map

Len Mbvowane - Vurhombe Cafe and B&B

Trader: Len Mbvowane
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.648685; 31.333410) (S24°38'55.27" E31°20'0.28")
Tel: 078 810 9839
Products: Construction art
Additional Information: Len also owns and runs the Vurhombe Cafe and B&B (which he calls an Artistic B&B).
Junction
map

Junction to Rolle, Agincourt, Newington and Kildare

GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.72746; 31.23658) (S24°43'38.86" E31°14'11.69")

Turn right.
Junction
map

Junction to Agincourt, Newington and Kildare

GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.761563; 31.226578) (S24°45'41.63" E31°13'35.68")

Turn left
Shopping
map

Lyson Godi

Trader: Lyson Godi
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.777724; 31.243484) (S24°46'39.81" E31°14'36.54")
Tel: 082 073 2690
Products: Hide-craft and shields
Junction
map

Junction to Newington and Kildare

GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.82012; 31.25872) (S24°49'12.43" E31°15'31.39")

Turn left
map

Precious Zitha - Kildare Shopping Centre

Trader: Precious Zitha
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.82125556; 31.25968889) (S24°49'16.52" E31°15'34.88")
Tel: 076 291 2247
Products: Seamstress
Junction
map

Junction to Newington and Kildare

GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.82111; 31.26014) (S24°49'16.00" E31°15'36.50")

Turn left to Newington and Paula Godi

Straight on for Kildare and Florence Mduli and Mildred Mawila
Junction
map

Junction to Paulina Godi

GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.81041; 31.29415) (S24°48'37.48" E31°17'38.94")

Turn right
Shopping
map

Paulina Godi

Trader: Paulina Godi
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.811640; 31.294726) (S24°48'41.90" E31°17'41.01")
Tel: 073 487 1186
Products: Traditional beading, traditional clothes and reed mats
Junction
map

Junction to Kildare

GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.830130; 31.278934) (S24°49'48.47" E31°16'44.16")

Turn right
Shopping
map

Florence Mdluli

Trader: Florence Mdluli
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.845599; 31.285875) (S24°50'44.16" E31°17'9.15")
Tel: 076 747 3552
Products: Traditional beading and reed mats
map

Junction to Kildare

GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.87581; 31.30372) (S24°52'32.92" E31°18'13.39")

Turn left
Junction
map

Junction to Mildred Mawila

GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.87067; 31.32927) (S24°52'14.41" E31°19'45.37")

Turn right
Shopping
map

Mildred Mawila

Trader: Mildred Mawila
GPS Co-ordinates: (-24.891943; 31.331302) (S24°53'30.99" E31°19'52.69")
Tel: 072 033 3610
Products: Bead bracelets and bead necklaces
Pictures in this guide taken by: AndrewScholtz

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About the Author

AndrewScholtz
AndrewScholtz
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Traveller: 1998 Mitsubishi PAJERO GLS LWB 4x4, 3.5l V6 225HP Amateur Photographer: Pentax K10D and Pentax...

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