Matobo women eke out a living from murals

By Providence Maraneli

Women in Matobo district of Matabeleland South Province are determined to transform their artistic home designs, wall paintings and artifacts into major tourist attractions.  

Peggy Masuku tip toes in and out of her leopard print designed kitchen, with homemade cup-boards and cooking plates.

“It just comes to me. I just draw and art is my life. I don’t copy from anyone. I take the red soils, ashes and other juices from leaves. I have gone as far as imitating the modern home designs like those in the urban homes in the affluent suburbs,” Peggy says. 

What started as routine home decorations during the post-harvest period by women in Matobo as per their custom has been turned into a community contest that has transformed lives.

For other designers, Igla Makhosi and Sithembiso Sibanda, as much as it is a way to preserve their culture, the fruits of their labour are not in vain.

Says Makhosi: “Yes, we are preserving our culture, but what started as just home designs have really transformed our lives. We are earning a living, I have once one a water tank and a plough.”

“We teach our children so that when we are gone, they will still do it. Yes, the rains erase some of our murals, but because this is natural the resources are readily available and its different from those ones in town who use cement,” says Sibanda.

It is often said ‘art is an adventure into the unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take risks,’ and this is exactly what these women in Matobo are doing.

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