Beading secrets from royal Tsonga lineage

Kheila Ngobeni

As a traditional, rural Tsonga women born from royal ancestry of one of the well-known Tsonga lineages, she learned everything there is to know about Tsonga traditions, customs and values, while growing up. She lives in the remote rural village of Khaxane, in the Giyani district.

Dooks of Tsonga women is called minćeka

All her life Kheila has been producing colourful beadwork, embroidered cloths and other body decorations, initially for herself, but for many years also to earn some income from her beautiful handcrafts.  These include body decorations and embroidered traditional’dress-cloth of the VhaTsonga women called minćeka  traditional Tsonga dolls and marriage baskets, and also sleeping mats and other household utensils, like clay pots and baskets.

Her coop also produce Marula beer

Her cooperative of 10 women, Dzimo Agricultural Coop, est 2005, also produce Marula beer for the annual Marula ritual ceremony at the Muti wa Vatsonga Open Air Museum and the Mopani district Marula Festival. The Marula tree and fruit is one of Africa’s botanical treasures. She has often been consulted by researchers regarding the traditions and culture of the Tsonga people.