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Celebrating local creativity at the V&A Waterfront this festive season

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The V&A Waterfront’s award-winning festive celebrations come to life this week, with the opening of a large, and comprehensive exhibition of African basketry. 

This joins the installation of equally beautiful Travelling Totems that compliment other installations that form the cornerstone of the neighbourhood’s festive décor over the December holiday season.

Joy from Africa to the World 

The hand-created decorations form part of the V&A Waterfront’s overarching Joy from Africa to the World project, based on a vision that kicked off two years ago to reimagine a festive season that celebrates the creativity of the African continent while honouring its commitment to environmental sustainability.

In addition to the 100 Beautiful Baskets and Travelling Totems on display, the project is also underpinned by a festive spirit and compassion for communities.

The installations challenge the traditional approach to the end of year celebration. The project heroes local design and sustainability and gives a rich, warm African welcome to visitors to the V&A Waterfront, the continent’s most visited destination.

“Since 2019 we have set out to infuse the festive season with purpose and meaning. We didn’t want to do away with the celebration, but rather, we wanted to do it in a way that showcases authentic African stories, shines a spotlight on the creativity of the people of this country and continent and celebrates our heritage,” explains Tinyiko Mageza, executive manager: marketing at the V&A Waterfront. 

“We wanted to inspire locals and the rest of the world by sharing the story of a joyful Africa – it is our story, told our way.”

100 Beautiful Baskets exhibition

The 100 Beautiful Baskets exhibition, which was curated by Platform Creative, will be open for public viewing from 25 November at the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre.

The contemporary exhibition celebrates Africa’s unique basket-weaving traditions and showcases woven vessels, furniture, jewellery and much more from different communities – stretching from KZN, Ghana to Zambia and Uganda.

100 Beautiful Baskets will kick start a festive celebration of local creativity at the V&A Waterfront. Image: Supplied

Each piece has been carefully crafted by hand, by master weavers (mostly women) across the African continent, and behind every basket, there is a story to tell and a person to meet.

One such story features master weaver, Angeline Masuku from Hlabisa in KwaZulu-Natal, who says it took her three full weeks – or 200 hours – to weave the Ukhamba Podium Basket on show at the exhibition.

Open to the public: 25 November 2021
Time: 10:00 – 19:00 daily
Entrance: free
Venue: Old Nu Metro Cinema complex, Level 1, Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre (above H&M)

Festive décor and travelling totems

The end of November also sees other festive décor elements being installed across the V&A Waterfront neighbourhood.

The décor talks to the vision of being inspired by local creativity, while driving a message of sustainability, through using materials that are reused and can be recycled.

This year, eight large and intricate totems have been created by local communities from around the country who are known for the creativity and celebration of South African craft and heritage.

One of the totems, named Umoya Wasekasi, which is isiXhosa for ‘spirit of the township’, is the story of Monkeybiz in Khayelitsha.

Noloyiso Maphakathi, who beaded the sun and moon that sits at the apex, says the sun symbolises happiness in her Xhosa culture.

Having the moon and sun at the top of the totem represents the cycle of life, which is made up of day and night; light and darkness – much like the lived experiences of many people in marginalised townships. The beaded dolls represent women’s empowerment – one of the core missions of Monkeybiz.

This totem, along with the other seven, can be seen around the V&A Waterfront’s Victoria Mall for the duration of the festive season.

V&A Waterfront tenants get involved

The Table Bay hotel will also greet travellers with African flair. 

Joanne Selby, general manager for The Table Bay hotel says, “We will be welcoming visitors from as far afield as the UK, the Middle East, Switzerland and Germany, and we want to give them a distinctly South African experience.

“This year our celebration will celebrate the essence of South Africa to create truly lasting memories for our guests.

“Sustainability is important to us so we decided to upcycle our decorations. We commissioned local artist Glorinah Khutso Mabaso to reimagine them in an African pattern that would be exclusive to our hotel, and that symbolises a festive season at the tip of Africa.”

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