They reckon you can take the girl out of Africa, but for some (like me), taking Africa out of the girl was never part of the plan. After spending six years wrestling disobedient brollies, politely queuing, minding the gap and eating full English breakfasts in Blighty and Scotland, I couldn’t ignore the hunger in my heart for the vast sunsets and wide open smiles of The Dark Continent. So, with my boyfriend and two of our best mates, a couple of Landies were bought and a most epic and life-changing overland trip from London to Cape Town began.
One of my personal life changes was the ravenous awakening of an obsession with African crafts. Made with pure skill and love – and often with much hooting over shared jokes – they’re the result of traditions that have survived through countless generations using simple tools. The creative resourcefulness of the craft magicians I met along the way had rocked my world.
In a nutshell, I was too inspired not to jump on the bandwagon. So, once back in South Africa, I started Thunga (meaning “sew” in Xhosa, one of our 11 official languages).
In SA, most of us are a reasonably patriotic bunch. We bandy about sayings like ‘local is lekker’ (lekker meaning cool/yummy/hot/awesome/nice/sexy, you-name-it), and ‘Proudly South African’. For me, it’s a matter of grave importance that Thunga represents these attitudes in every way.
It must be said that I was pretty taken aback when I realised that most of the vivid printed textiles that had caught my eye in West Africa were in actual fact shipped in from China. Pretty disillusioning to think that this kind of subtle disempowerment was happening. For this reason, you will find that all Thunga bags, purses and accessories are made using South Africa’s very own, very unique Shweshwe fabric, made by Da Gama in the Eastern Cape.