Art a vehicle to fight poverty

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

KwaZulu-Natal crafters are using their art skills to fight poverty in impoverished rural areas.

Yesterday, crafters from different parts of the province gathered in Durban to discuss how they could work together to eradicate poverty.

Their campaign, called Operation Qedindlala (eradicate poverty), was launched to equip artists with the skills to sustain the art business.

Portraits of President Thabo Mbeki, Minister of Education Naledi Pandor and Minister of Correctional Services Ngconde Balfour are selling like hot cake in the province. Reeves Gumede, of the Indonsa art crafts centre in Ulundi, said their industry still faced many challenges.

"This is a very complicated art but we are able to feed our families," he said.

Gumede said they craftedportraits of many politicians and celebrities to improve their lives.

He said the centre trained many people who have never before seen the inside of a classroom. "All we want, is to ensure that people get more skills and feed their families," she said.

Thoko Luna, of the Gobhela Art Centre at Umzumbe, said the group of women opted to start crafting beads in 2004 for sale to tourists visiting their area.

Luna said life is very difficult in the industry since they have no place to trade their works of art.

She said they only rely on the goodwill of the public who see their products and buy it.

Weziwe Thusi, MEC for Arts, Culture and Tourism, said she has seen amazing talent in the arts in the province.