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COP 17 Kushikisha Ufutu – The tortoise is getting busy, December 2011

Written by Heath on March 15th, 2012

This was possibly the hardest project I’ve ever engaged in, and the end reasult shows it. There was a last minute opportunity to work on a project over the COP 17 conference in Durban at the end of 2011.


I was asked to run a similar project to the one I did in Harare (earlier blog post).


It basically consisted of working with a group of skilled artisans from Kwa-Zulu Natal, and introducing them to working with waste and ways of innovating with their existing skills and understandings of their capacities as crafters. The engagement was with ideas around shelter, climate change and simple ways to change people’s ways of dealing with waste.


The people involved were:


Tawanda Dengedza

Phumaphi Myende

Betina Khumalo

Thandi Hlabisa

Fikile Biyela

Victor Mpofu

Lindilelani Ndinisa

Wendy Chatterton


There were diverse skills represented: weaving with grass and ilala palm, woodworking, beading, metalcraft, telephone wire weaving… It was an amazing chance for me to begin to see Zulu traditional crafts for the first time – at close range, and also in process.


Why was it difficult?


It was HOT, wet, and there were language barriers. The conference had made Durban into a very busy and congested place. It was also my first time in Durban with no satnav, and I found the city quite difficult to navigate.


Unfortunately time ran out on us too, and the final push of installation was rushed. I am sad that it was so hard and that there were so many difficulties – and that the resulting wok was more of a disaster than a beautiful or uplifting thing.


The point for me had always been more about the personal growth of the individuals involved rather than a predicted end result, and I hope that each person that worked on the project was rewarded by the experience – they expressed their gratitude for having worked with me, and I hope it had a lasting impact.


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