Buhlebuyeza Motsemme: Founding member of Teranga Azania
Crafters Association and Mamane Jali Foundation
My name is Buhlebuyeza Motsemme. I am a self-motivated young woman with a passion for social issues and their impact on youth, women and children in South Africa, Africa as hole and globally. Having majored in Political Science and Gender studies from the University of Cape Town – I have a keen interest in researching and communicating socio economic issues that have a direct and indirect impact on women and children.
To this end I am intensely involved with the social upliftment of women in urban and rural areas as a founding member and Chairperson of the Mamane Jali foundation that has had effective programs that support the educational path of the girl child. In my personal capacity, I am a social entrepreneur. Through my company and organization, Teranga Azania and Teranga Azania Crafters Association I sell African jewelry and accessories handmade by young women from eThafamaas, eNdwedwe to help empower them economically whilst encouraging the preservation of our culture as a means to end their poverty. Through the knowledge I have amassed together with the substantial exposure to various cultures in Africa, having travelled and lived with families in villages and communities across the continent. I have gained insight into socio-cultural nuances and the plight of the girl child and women within these communities to hopefully do the work of economic emancipation for women in slums, rural and townships across the continent.
Through my art, research, and activism I hope to raise awareness whilst finding lasting solutions that will always pose a threat to the scourge against gender inequality and the dismantling of patriarchy.
Teranga Azania Crafters Association (TACA) uses indigenous arts and crafts to promote and empower black woman’s economies with a focus on rural and townships areas in South Africa. TACA teaches and sells traditionally inspired arts, craft, and accessories. Our pieces are inspired by and honour our beautiful African cultures from the Zulu to the Maasai and are handmade by women whom we train from the areas where we facilitate these workshops that aim to upgrade their skills as well as providing them with financial literacy and platforms on how to grow their businesses and be their own bosses.
To begin with, we started eThafamaas, Endwedwe where my paternal grandmother’s mother Mamane Beatrice Jali is from, a formidable woman in her own right who has always served as a source of inspiration for me. With an already existing business relationship, as suppliers for TerangaAzania we provided three women with the skills, knowledge, and business opportunity in the hope that it will encourage and fast track their financial independence. With these workshops that are in partnership with Nela Kahle , a registered beading and craft school in eThekwini we hope to equip them with skills and tools that also encourage a culture of social entrepreneurships by inviting others as an act of paying it forward and create a community of thriving female entrepreneurs. We eventually hope to establish schools in all 9 provinces for woman from rural and township areas as well as eventually reaching women and children in refugee camps and other rural areas across the continent.
The idea is to ensure that almost as effectively as a pyramid schemes of stokvels and all sorts of other income schemes we use the same model of ascension from manufacturer and supplier to social entrepreneur. Gradually this will change the socio-economic trajectory and reality of the black women in rural and urban township areas by utilising the skills given to them by their foremothers whilst still incorporating innovative new ideas to increase their supplies and meet their demands with no middle man.
Communities you work around
I have such a love affair with rural KZN especially eNdwedwe which as mentioned above is where my great grandmother is from. From learning how to give back by helping her beloved community through her foundation I began to see more opportunities of how I can help especially given that most households where headed by single unemployed mothers with 2 or more dependents that survive on grants. I also just moved back to my hometown in Chesterville and hope to start the township revolution of Female Economic Empowerment there too.
Relationship with DDP.
My role in the DDP is to educate and engage with citizens on their rights and responsibilities as stakeholders of our democracy
What does women month mean to them?
To be very honest aside from honoring those that paved the way for us to have voices and be in spaces that were otherwise reserved for men, women’s month means it is the only month in the year that we are actually seen and heard on a national level of grievances that directly affect women as well as to shine a light to all the beautiful and hard work women do as effective and active citizens of our beloved country and democracy.
Why is celebrating women’s month important to you?
It is important to celebrate women’s month as it in affect brings important issues such as Gender Based Violence and Femicide, the call to equal pay and bridging the gaps that have been placed and perpetuated by systematic patriarchy to forefront of the national conversation.
What concerns you the most about politics in South Africa?
Besides the obvious violation of humanity given that the law and the democracy that we enjoy and so proudly boast of is not very womxn friendly. By that I mean we cannot move forward politically if womxn’s right are still fought for and seen as separate politics to that of human rights. The fact that from our local governance to the national level womxn are still underrepresented, underpaid, and undermined all based on their gender is appalling to me. Especially considering we have the best constitution in the world and an incredibly young democracy you would think that gender inequality would not be as prevalent as it is today. We are tired of heading the call to government to consider us when the very essence of their existence is for the betterment of all. We have had enough of sacrificing ourselves while our souls are being killed by the audacity of South African men. Our bodies have become political and are in the most critical state of emergency therefore so is the politics of this land for if freedom is not achieved for all it is not yet achieved. South African politics is as flawed and broken as the men who infringe upon the right and spaces of others.