Sibanye Bomama Community Project
Through the Staff Community Builder programme, the Old Mutual Foundation supports employees who are actively involved in community work by investing up to R20 000 into each of their community projects. From 1993 – 2011, the Old Mutual Foundation has invested approximately R37,7 million into 2 253 Staff Community Builder projects around the country.
“Let’s go meet the mamas,” says Nonceba Cynthia Klaas of Old Mutual Idutywa Branch, Eastern Cape. It is a typical sunny morning in a typical Transkei town. A stream of cars going one way nudge their way through a congestion of cars moving the other way. There are traders and fruit vendors and loud gospel music spilling onto the sidewalks. It is messy and lively and chaotic and colourful. It is Africa.
Cynthia is an Old Mutual Staff Community Builder and today we will visit her community project, Sibanye Bomama [we are one woman]. The mamas generate an income by making and selling traditional Xhosa garments and beadwork. Cynthia is proud of her traditions and volunteers her time to work with the group. As we bump our way down a dirt road to the project, she gestures to a cow blocking the road causing us to slow down, and remarks, “Watch out for the Transkei robots.”
A tray of coffee and slices of cake have been neatly laid out for our arrival, and proudly displayed are the traditional Sibanye Bomama products. Initially shy, the mamas relax towards the end of our visit and a song starts spontaneously. They sway and clap their work-worn hands, shuffle bare feet, rhythmically harmonising with each other. Although my ears can’t understand the words, my heart understands that they are saying thank you. Before we leave, we are given a bag filled with guavas. Even amongst the poorest of the poor, in traditional cultures guests do not leave empty-handed.
In 2010, the Old Mutual Foundation provided R20 000 funding to support Cynthia’s Staff Community Builder project, Sibanye Bomama. This was used for the purchase of sewing machines, beading and materials. The group specialises in making and selling traditional Xhosa clothing and beadwork.