By: Tebogo Mokwena
Shane Mayongo’s great-uncle taught him how to make ceramic and pottery craftwork, and he decided to pass on these skills to create employment. Through Sne and Dusis Ceramics, he imparts ceramic and pottery skills to historically-disadvantaged groups and trains between 10 and 20 unemployed people yearly. Mayongo said that he first encountered ceramic and pottery craftwork when he was studying in Cape Town and staying with his late great-uncle, who was a professor at the University of Cape Town.
His great-uncle, who had the equipment, taught Mayongo how to make ceramics. Mayongo returned to his hometown in Upington in the Northern Cape, where he participated in a learnership programme on clay pottery. He then launched his business in 2016, and started selling his work to galleries, art collectors and museums across the country and internationally.
But for Mayongo, besides having a successful business, transferring his skills to local community members was just as important. Through the Phaphama Community Craft Project, people living in Upington attend a two-week training course. “The aim of the project is to give opportunities to community members that are women, youth, people living with disabilities as well as the LGBTQIA+ community,” he told Vutivi News.
“We select a few and train them on how to make artwork. We then partner with stakeholders and private companies to give them training on how to start their own businesses. “We also link them with organisations like the Small Enterprise Development Agency which helps them get funding from the National Youth Development Agency and other businesses.” Mayongo started the project in 2017 because there were many unemployed youngsters, as well as those who were too old to be classified as youth and did not have access to similar opportunities as young people.
With his team of seven employees, Mayongo believes it is important to impart these skills as while not many of the community members are academically inclined, they have the capacity to absorb practical skills. “This is their chance to shine and for them to make something out of themselves,” he said.Mayongo’s aim is to implement this project in other parts of the country, and is planning on creating a similar organisation in the rural areas of the Northern Cape where he can go from district to district to implement the project.