MEET THE ARTISANS

Rural women weavers lie at the heart of everything we do. Gone Rural provides fair and sustainable income to over 780 skilled weavers across 13 groups and 52 communities in Eswatini. These women are talented artisans, breadwinners, and businesswomen who use their home-based work with Gone Rural to overcome some of the challenges of rural living, enhancing the lives of their families and communities in the process.

Since 2009, the weavers have elected leaders from each of their groups to sit on a Rural Artisan Board. This tier of leadership is specifically tasked with representing the needs and interests of the artisans. Gone Rural's weavers are the inspiration behind many of our signature pieces illustrating their leadership, strength, creativity, and family values. Many of our groups are multi-generational, with intricate weaving skills passed down from mother to daughter through generations. The women are constantly challenged with new patterns, shapes, and designs to weave, making Gone Rural the innovative company that it is today.

 

Bonakele Ngwenya
Bonakele is Siphiwe’s first-born daughter. Like her, she left school at 16, when she became pregnant. She was depressed about this, but her daughter gave her joy. She learnt to weave from her mother and joined Gone Rural to support her child. Bonakele has a good relationship with her husband, but he does not have permanent employment. There are many ups and downs in their life. She wishes for more orders of woven vases so she could work more herself. This is her prayer for the future.

 
 

 

Siphiwe Mngometulu

Siphiwe is the backbone of her homestead. She left school after falling pregnant and began weaving to support her child. Together, Siphiwe and her husband had six more children, building a life at his homestead. Then one day he sold all their cattle and left. He did not return for four years. Siphiwe had to leave her husband’s family homestead. But with her income from Gone Rural, she was able to start her life again; building a new house and buying animals. Her husband now visits a few times each year. She celebrates his return by slaying a chicken or goat for him. However, she is yet to regain her cattle herd. This is her ultimate dream.

 'Gogo' Christina Mngometulu

Known as 'Gogo' or 'Grandmother', Christina is the head of her family. She has been weaving since Gone Rural began 20 years ago. Her daughter Siphiwe and granddaughter Bonakele are weavers too. Gogo had 12 children. She is sad so many have passed, including several grandchildren. Her daughters made her proud, but the boys have disappointed her. She regrets not teaching them about HIV, although she taught them well in the ways of the home.