Working Women: #17 Tapiwa and Alice Chindeka


Tapiwa and Alice Chindeka with their products at their home in Grahamstown.

Reading towards a degree in math and computer science, Tapiwa Chindeka makes bags and accessories to take her mind off academia.
“I do it to use a different part of my brain, it’s my creative side” she said. “It started when I wanted a bag but I didn’t want to buy it. So I decided to make one for myself and as time goes by you realize that there is something that you could have done better and that makes it more exciting,” said Tapiwa.
She stocks her work in Kisma & Co a local upcycling craft store, and gets her materials from the off cuts and scraps delivered there.
“Because you never get the same material price, each piece is unique” she said. She gets the creative streak from her mother, she said.
Alice Chindeka makes bowls and vases out of papier-mâché with waste paper that comes from Rhodes University. “It started in 1995, when we were still in Zimbabwe. I used to work for this post-office and they would burn all the paper, I didn’t like that,” said Alice. “So I started collecting the paper, but then it was piling up, so one day I mashed and mixed it with water and glue and made a vase”.
However, she couldn’t start making her work for sale until her children grew older, but since 2009 it has been her main source of employment.
“All I need is a table and just a little space to dry them, and sunlight. I just dry them on the window sill. It’s lucky that we are on the sunny side of the building,” said Alice.

South Africa commemorates Women’s Month in August as a tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women. This August, GAP is publishing a micro-profile a day on women working in Grahamstown in 2015.

About the photographer: Jane Berg is a photojournalist working in Grahamstown and finishing her Bachelor of Journalism Degree at Rhodes University. She is the Media Officer for The Gender Action Project. You can see more of her work at and on her Facebook page.


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