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Fashion show at Hifa

The event, which is being hosted by the Swaziland-based Mustard Seed Africa will feature models on the catwalk showcasing products such as handbags, belts, necklaces and other accessories.

“This will be an exciting initiative that will demonstrate how far handicrafts can be developed and also stretches the imagination of the artisans as they do research on how to further enhance their products. 

“The showcase will be highly entertaining and will incorporate performance, art and fashion,” said Zimbabwean-born Gail Mawocha, who is a community development consultant and founder of Mustard Seed Africa.

She said the showcase is aimed at influencing new perceptions about handicrafts through the performance oriented exhibitions of the models.

“By showcasing the products on the catwalk, we want to change perceptions about handicrafts and highlight how far the skill can be developed.

“We want to create an awareness that quality handmade products are worth investing in,” she said.

“Another aim is to create an interest among young people so they can be inspired to also use their skills to design and also develop handicrafts further.

“It is important for us Africans to appreciate our own cultural heritage.”

Mawocha said that the handicraft-cum-fashion show will feature out-of-box designed products that are made from mainly recycled material and natural fibres.

She added that her organisation currently works with approximately 200 disadvantaged women in Swaziland with an aim of creating income-generating opportunities.

“Research in Swaziland has proven that the handicrafts industry is the second biggest income earner for women in poor communities after agriculture. 

“I believe the same drive can be applied in Zimbabwe particularly if handicrafts are organized and formalized amongst stakeholders,” Mawocha said.

She said that Mustard Seed Africa deliberately focused on investing in women because it had far reaching consequences for development at community level as opposed to investing in men.

“Investing in women has far reaching consequences because when you invest in a woman you invest in a community.

“Women are hard working and focused. They can use their hands to create products that can earn them an income,” she said.

She added that her organisation reaches out to marginalised communities, conducts handicrafts skills audits, provides product development advice, branding, packaging and marketing of finished products.

“We work with the communities using a fair trade model, and we encourage women to make the handicrafts in ways that do not harm the environment,” she said.

She said that the overall purpose of the exhibition at Hifa was to initiate collaboration and skills sharing between Swazi and Zimbabwean handicraft artisans.

“We want to create contemporary African handicrafts that can be appealing both locally and internationally,” she said.

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