Colourful Elim rural hip, CraftArt and a buzz of activity

Elim Arts and Culture tour

This tour introduces you to colourful Elim and surrounding villages where we visit the workshops of a wide variety of artists and crafters. Here we advise guests to make use of the services of a local tour guide, since many places are not that easy to find.

Daily township life in Tshikota and Indian shops in Makahdo

The tour starts from Madi a Thavha Mountain Lodge. From here you visit Tshikota and the Indian area in Makhado/Louis Trichardt. Tshikota, the township of Louis Trichardt/Makhado gives an impression of the daily life, housing, shops, shebeens, and schools in rural townships. The Indian area with its vibrant businesses and shops, mosque and urban areas is well worth a visit.

Buzz of Elim informal market

Then we’re off to Elim and first stop at the informal tin-shack market to get a feel of the local vibe of the predominantly Tsonga people of this area; really a favourite of photographers.

Batik, embroidery and beading, modern inspired by ancient

From there the next stop is at Twananani Textiles, where a group of 12 women, inspired by traditional Tsonga patterns use hand painting techniques, block printing, dyeing, bead work and embroidery  to create a wide range of home decoration and fashion products. They also run a crèche and guests are frequently invited to sing with the children.You can also visit the textile workshop of Elisa and Maureen Makuleke nearby; they specialize in Tsonga bead work, embroidery and traditional jewelry.

Chill at Thomas’ rural studio with beautiful sculptures and traditional instruments

The next village, Tshivhuyuni, is where famous artist Thomas Kubayi runs his woodcarving workshop; Vutsila Art Centre and music studio. This is a nice spot for a break, a picnic-lunch and to enjoy the beautiful rural landscape. If pre-arranged, visitors can play traditional music instruments with the students of Thomas Kubayi’s woodcarving workshop here too.

Famous Venda pots galore

Further along the Mashamba road one finds Mukondeni Pottery factory. Here it is very interesting to see the skilled and famous Venda potters demonstrate how they make their pots and how the traditional open-firing process works. In and around the factory a large collection of pots and other clay objects are showcased and sold to visitors.

A few hundred meters further down that road is Mukondeni Pottery Village; where a group of 15 women, established by Sarah Munyai, produce traditional and contemporary Venda pots, clay fire-pots, bowls and clay tiles and beads. The village women dig clay from the river in their village; this particular clay is the strongest and best for making clay pots. For decoration the potters use graphite and ochre, found in the Luonde Mountains close by. They decorate their pots with geometric patterns and various traditional symbols.

Fishes are a particularly strong symbol of this region, also evident in the works of local sculptors like Thomas Kubayi, Albert Monyayi and the late and famous Jackson Hlungwani. Many of the local fish artworks are exhibited in Madi a Thavha’s permanent Dancing Fish art gallery. The tour can be expanded by visiting other equally interesting artists, community projects and schools; part of our personalized approach based on our guests’ individual interest.

Rates Elim Arts and Culture tour

Elim Arts and culture tour
Tour including transport – tour guide – picnic. From 3 persons per person – valid until 31/10/2015 R 890
Tour including transport – tour guide – picnic. For 2 persons per person – valid until 31/10/2015 R 1335

 Additional loops and places to visit on Elim tour

  • Chavani, the home village of Florence Matchume, the grandmother of our tour guide Musa Matchume. Although she doesn’t stay there anymore, it’s a nice place to have a picnic lunch under the trees of her homestead. In the village you can visit the local school where Musa’s mother is teaching.
  • Hlamarisa Vuma stays in Bungeni village, she is disabled and lives with her relatives at a homestead always buzzing with women stamping peanuts, cooking food, and drying vegetables while Hlamarisa sits on her grass mat beading. She gets orders from traditional healers and she beads garments for people in the village. She also likes to make more modern work.
  • Driving in the direction of Levubu subtropical valley and Malamulele the route passes the village of Mashau where David Murathi lives. Mostly working from his homestead,  he sculpts fishes and other beautiful functional art from indigenous woods. His home, workshop and small gallery with plenty of sculptures, wooden fishes, towel racks, hooks and mirrors makes a fabulous stop. David’s dreams and ancestral spirits inspire him and each object he carves is a piece of art. He knows a lot about traditional healing and grows many indigenous and medicinal plants in his garden.

 Activities to be done on Elim tour

  •  At Mukondeni Pottery Village and at Mukondeni Pottery factory visitors can make their own clay pot, a nice activity for parents and kids.
  • At Vutsila Art Centre visitors can play traditional music instruments with the students of Thomas Kubayi’s woodcarving workshop