More about Nomaswazi

Founder and Director of African Mamas Crafts, Nomaswazi Tinus tells us her story.  Nomaswazi founded African Mamas Crafts in 2015. The idea was birthed from a desire to uplift and support rural development through supporting local crafters. Since their humble beginnings, the business has grown exponentially, and its social impact is seen throughout.

Before starting Africa Mamas Crafts, Nomaswazi worked in the property and telecommunications sector for a number of years. Now, in her early forties, Nomaswazi has created a platform for change through African Mamas Crafts, which not only showcases the creativity and resourcefulness of the women from rural communities but proudly South African crafts with an African authenticity and a modern twist, appealing to the global market.

Can you briefly name a few of the opportunities you had while growing up that made you the person you are today?

Nomaswazi feels that she has been blessed with many opportunities throughout her life, one of them being that she attended a multi-racial boarding school, which was quite a rare occurrence at the time.

During her school career, Nomaswazi was offered a bursary from Transnet to continue her higher education at the Cape Technikon (now Cape Peninsula University of Technology).  Throughout her journey, Nomaswazi feels like many doors have been opened through divine intervention. She spoke about how career opportunities started falling in place, purely by being true to herself and where she came from.

Can you briefly describe your experience at In Harmonie?

Nomaswazi described her experience at in Harmonie as ‘incredibly refreshing.’ She described the environment as ‘rich’, with multiple spheres and different people. As Nomaswazi is currently based in Johannesburg, she spoke about how great it felt to be in a quiet space like in Harmonie, away from the clutter of the city.  During Nomaswazi’s visit to in Harmonie, she noticed that there was an incredible heart to serve amongst the people. “I wish more people knew of the space,” said Nomaswazi.

Another aspect that stood out to Nomaswazi during her experience at in Harmonie were the times of worship in the Chapel, which created a space for reconciliation and reflection with oneself as well as with others. Times of worship also help Nomaswazi find a balance in her life. At times, it can become easy to forget that one should be grateful and remember the good things you have in life, says Nomaswazi, and worship helps one remember that.

What do you think some of the challenges are in building a more harmonious South Africa?

Nomaswazi explains that finding harmony is slightly more difficult in South Africa. Nomaswazi spoke about how one has to try and find harmony in the midst of racial tensions as well as the ever-present inequal distribution of wealth. Due to this, Nomaswazi brings to light the other challenges our country faces in finding harmony, which includes the high unemployment rate, leading to the high amount of people who are dependent on government grants. Although these are challenges, Nomaswazi emphasises that she encourages all people to trust in God to help with Godly solutions.

How do you think a person moves from a state of disharmony to harmony?

For Nomaswazi, personal harmony is reached through prayer and becoming aware of one’s thoughts. Spending time with God, and times of reflection helps Nomswazi deal with her issues openly and honestly. Nomaswazi then elaborates that it’s helpful to have an open heart and then pinpoint the issue by spending time reflecting in God’s presence.

How do you and your organisation engage in this process of change?

African Mamas Crafts is in the business of uplifting women from rural communities. They do this by supporting craft and agricultural co-operatives. The beauty of African crafts is showcased through the business and tells the tale of the creativity and resourcefulness of African women.

African Mamas Crafts is based right where the women already are, so it’s not necessary for them to travel too far. The business is also based off skills that the women already have, like beading and weaving. They also take a look at sustainable farming, where families can start small-scale farming so, at the very least, they can be fed.

Nomaswazi’s business creates a constant stream of income to women in rural communities, that provides hope to families and turns dreams of higher education into a possible reality. Nomaswazi aims at having her business encourage both education and higher education.  Women in rural communities rarely have education up until grade 12, let alone tertiary education. Part of her desire to support rural women where they are, is understanding that living in townships within cities requires more money than rural based economies.  The challenges of being located outside of the city in the townships also mean that about 70% of their income is spent on transportation as they often have to travel extremely far for work. This makes sending money back to their families extremely difficult and largely unfruitful. Also, the separation of families and young children being raised by grandparents means a generation of kids raised without their mothers’ love.

Any words of advice or encouragement you would like to share with those who feel like they have lost hope?

Nomaswazi shared words of advice, urging those who feel hopeless to know God has a purpose and a plan for their lives. Although it’s easy to focus on the negativity around you, it’s important to try your best to focus on what you do have.

You are alive.

You have a job.

You have clothing.

You have a family.

Nomaswazi concludes by explaining how we always tend to think that others have it better off than we do. However, we need to focus on the many positive things surrounding us, how fortunate we are in this moment – and that there is always a tomorrow that will be better.