A Strategy for South Africa’s Craft Design

The South African Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) commissioned Khwela Factory to manage a craft strategy project focusing on craft makers and designers in South Africa. Since August 2018, craft makers and their businesses have been interviewed using a national database of craft practitioners to conduct less than 10 minute interviews through telephone conversations and visits at various markets across Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and the North West Province.

Stakeholders were invited to participate in this dialogue process aimed at charting a better way forward for the South African craft sector at the Dialogue Conference on 24, 25 and 26 October 2018.

The Strategy and Policy Expert for this project was Motsumi Makgale Makhene with the role of examining the implications of the White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage for the Craft Sector. He will assist the DAC in shaping a workable strategy that cabinet will decide upon in 2019.


The work that the DAC is doing in the development of the craft sector in South Africa is informed by the 1996 White Paper on Arts and Culture. The White Paper has inspired various other strategies such as the 1998 Cultural Industries Growth Strategy (CIGS), the 2001 Craft strategy and lately, the 2014 craft strategy. The DAC seeks to align its programmes and work to other critical policy and strategy frameworks such as the National Development Plan, the Department of Small Business Development’s Craft Customized Programme (CSP), the Industrial Policy Action Plan and others.

The review of the White Paper on Arts and Culture provides a strategic opportunity for the DAC to come up with an updated and relevant strategic plan for the development of the craft sector over the next 5 years (2020 – 2025). This plan seeks to systematically organise and resource the work of the Department in the development of the craft sector in partnership with other strategic role players.


The Unoyiwawa album is part of a program that is a long term Khwela Factory initiative aimed at creating employment through integrated community development. It is currently being developed into a series of textile designs linking indigenous resources with contemporary social and economic development.

Unoyiwawa is a mythical African Super Hero and her name means the “Strong soldier who does not fall and protects communities from natural disasters.” Unoyiwawa is daughter to Nomkhubulwane, the Zulu Goddess of nature, fertility and rain. 

Unoyiwawa draws from an imagined world 200 000 years ago in Southern Africa by teleporting herself through time. She loves playing under the bright blue sky with her friends France, Cameroon, Senegal, Cote d’ Ivore and Mozambique. 

The languages you will find in the Unoyiwawa album are English, isiZulu, Sesotho, French, Khoi, Venda, Tswana and Shona. Influenced by Tshivenda rhythms, mbaqanga, classical music and dance, gospel, RnB, Jazz and Soul music, the album reflects positivity, gratitude and humility.

Through this program, we hope to partner with organisations in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Northern Cape, Limpopo, Free State, North West Province and Mpumalanga. The partnerships will involve training, internship programmes and mentorship seeking to engage communities to reach a core objective of self-sustaining growth and breaking the cycle of poverty.