SOUTH AFRICA 

Context

The Boipatong massacre, a brutal attack in 1992 that claimed 45 lives and left lasting scars on the South African township, serves as a stark reminder of the country’s turbulent past. This tragic event continues to resonate with the Boipatong community, where survivors grapple with profound loss and economic hardship.

Recognizing the resilience of the Boipatong community, particularly a group of skilled seamstresses, the Colombian Embassy, in collaboration with the Pan-African Council, embarked on a commendable initiative. Ambassadors Maria del Rosario Mina Rojas and Monde Mshudulu identified these women and generously donated sewing machines to empower their craft. This act of support aimed to provide economic opportunities and foster self-sufficiency within the community.

A Collaborative Effort for Upliftment

To further strengthen this initiative, a pivotal meeting took place at Vaal University of Technology (VUT). Ambassador Rojas and Mr. Mshudulu explored potential partnerships with VUT’s Fashion Design department. Professor Kehla Ndlovu, Vice-Chancellor of VUT, welcomed the collaboration and envisioned an expanded program. This program would not only equip the Boipatong seamstresses with essential skills but also create exchange programs with Colombian universities, fostering international collaboration and cultural exchange.

The Colombian designer, Laura Laurens, who was captivated by a Boipatong fashion show held in October 2023, further bolstered the initiative. With the combined efforts of the Colombian Embassy, the Pan-African Council, and VUT, the sewing machine donation took place on February 21st, 2024. Professor Ndlovu’s optimism regarding the project’s potential for positive impact on the Boipatong community, VUT, and beyond, resonates throughout this collaborative effort. The potential exchange programs with Colombian universities hold the promise of fostering long-lasting connections and shared learning opportunities.

More details on the VUT website.