March 2012

The Harlequin Foundation is proud to announce that UNESCO’s International Fund for Cultural Diversity has approved a grant of US$ 81000 to the eMzantsi mapiko training project for “Encouraging creative entrepreneurship in South Africa through recycled arts”.

The funding, stemming from the UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, will allow the Harlequin Foundation to expand the project, focusing on building skills of adults with learning disabilities and single mothers.

Yandiswa at costume-making workshop

Over the last 3 years, thanks to funding from the National Lotteries Distribution Trust Fund, the project has trained over 30 local people in recycled art skills, creating colourful costumes, floats and giant puppets for the annual eMzantsi Carnival.

The eMzantsi recycled artists are referred to as the mapiko crew. “For a long time, we were seeking an African equivalent for the Trinidadian term ‘Mas-making’. ‘Mas’ refers to ‘Masquerade’, but we wanted a word that would resonate in the South African context” said chief trainer Justin Stuart of Scarborough. “Following a visit to the Iziko exhibition ‘Ghoema and Glitter’ we discovered the Makonde word ‘mapiko’ (from Mozambique) which simultaneously means ‘mask-making’, ‘shape-shifting’ and ‘wonder’. This sums up the wide range of skills our crew embody and the magic they create much better than the word ‘costume-makers’!”. Mapiko coordinator Yandiswa Mazwana added “We love the word because aMapiko also means ‘wings’ in isiXhosa – and eMzantsi gives you wings!”

eMzantsi has recruited participants from the Western Cape Association for Persons with Disabilities in Ocean View, and Young Mothers groups from Catholic Welfare and Development and the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation Youth Centre in Masiphumelele. They will embark on a 10 month training course from April which will teach them the skills they need to create recycled art work, from small scale craft for retail to large scale pieces for festivals and carnivals. eMzantsi project MD Sam Pearce said “We are incredibly proud of the achievements of our mapiko crew, who have gone on to work at the Gauteng Carnival and the Cape Town Carnival. eMzantsi leads the country in creating recycled carnival art, and creating jobs through it, and is blazing a trail for more to follow.”

Call the eMzantsi office on 021 785 1515 for more info, see or find the eMzantsi Carnival on Facebook.