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The Masakhane Quilt

An inspiring story

A fortuitous encounter at a bible study group in Kayamandi led five young people from different cultural backgrounds in search of a platform to learn, teach and, in turn, empower others by passing on practical skills. Their search ended at Stellenbosch Crafts Alive (SCA) housed in the Old Agricultural Hall on the banks of the Eerste River.

Within a short space of time, Chelaine and Mathilde had taught Nophiwo, Nthahla (Lucky) and Phelokazi basic sewing skills. Initially, simple and, soon thereafter, more advanced small patchwork products were created from fabric remnants. Then Nana Wagner, curator at SCA, came up with the challenging idea to use the same patchwork techniques and shweshwe fabric off-cuts to make a quilt. As a final touch to the quilt, Nana envisaged that all makers of the quilt and role players of SCA add their handprint in a range of vibrant colours, both to the front and the back of the quilt, an idea inspired by handprints in rock art.

Anna Kruger, director of SCA, supported the idea wholeheartedly and added her knowledge and mentorship skills to the undertaking. Decisions pertaining to the quilt project were made democratically, everyone’s voice and input counted equally. And so “Masakhane – We are building together”- a name given to the sewing project by Nophiwo, Nthahla and Phelokazi – and The Masakhane quilt were born. At this point Nomathemba from SCA joined Masakhane and the quiltmakers.

The quilt grew patch by patch, off-cut by off-cut and slivers of fabric under the watchful eyes of everyone involved, slowly but surely. A big combined team effort- an AMAZING result!

Join hands with us and help us build!

Written By,


November 2021

For comments by the makers of the Masakhane quilt, see below:

Chelaine and Mathilde

We are so grateful to SCA for opening their doors for us to be able to have a platform to empower others, and to have a platform for fellowship and to pass on skills. It is such a peaceful and safe working environment and leaves room for creating as well. We are grateful for all the friendly faces welcoming us in and making us part of the SCA family.


I am Nophiwo from Kayamandi. I started at SCA in September. What attracted me to SCA was the fact that I can use my skills because we do handmade items. I can remember my first day as if it was yesterday. The way the ladies welcomed me and made me feel at home. Being here helps me stay from the amount of alcohol use in the location. It keeps me positive and focused on my future.

Nthahla (Lucky)

My name is Lucky. I live in Kayamandi I started joining the SCA in September on Heritage Day. sCA helped me a lot by giving me skills on doing things it also helped on how I live because at the end of the day I can buy bread and I really enjoy to be here.


My name is Phelokazi. I live in Kayamandi. I started here at SCA in September, and it helped a lot because now I’ve learned to use my own skills that I didn’t know I had. When I started here, I didn’t know anything but now I do thanks to SCA I enjoy working here because everyone is nice and I thank Chelaine and Mathilde for bringing me here and I also want to thank Nana and Mama Anna for the opportunity they gave to us, because it keeps me busy and also it helped me a lot maybe I would’ve ended up taking drugs or doing some bad stuff.


I am Nomathemba and came from uVuyo. They have taught me how to embroider, crochet and sew. Now I am at SCA and enjoy everything they teach me about sewing. I also have started to make my own designs for cushion covers and a variety of bags and am now also part of the Masakhane project.

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