No more stripping for beggars
by Kebonyekgotla Baleseng
A traditional jeweller at work, Omogolo Nkulu Gomosie, holds a bead before her face like a diamond sorter marvelling at the precious stone. With careful approach, she slides a thin string through a similarly thin passage of the bead.
With an action engraved in silence and delicate manoeuvres of fingers, she pulls many other beads through the string until it’s a chain, long enough to round a neck.
Lastly, she secures the beads with clasps and fasteners at both ends.
“It’s a complete necklace,” she quips, dangling a necklace in space.
What gives away Nkulu’s jewellery is a strong element of African throwback. Unlike gleams of diamonds and pearls, hers fit traditional makeover, commonly associated with spiritual healers, Bushmen and African belles of the past.
But to her, it’s a feminine thing.
“I create for women,” she says.
In the beginning, she crafted her jewellery to wear and that attracted other women who hold traditional looks with high regard. From locals to tourists, they all wished to have what hung around her neck, ear lopes and what wraps around her wrists.
“They would want to take it off from me, usually at a price. I’d resist and promise to create the same for them but they’d beg until I surrender,” she explains.
As many women reached out, she decided to take it as a business opportunity knocking and she opened a business door.
“I think I started to sell my crafts around 2007,” she says.
And she has noticed relatives have established a tendency to disregard the price tag.
Today, Nkulu swears as much as true that, with her jewellery, she can make a woman ooze African beauty of the past and still have broad accommodation in the bustle and dazzle of city lights and confusion. That is added onto by more creations she has in store.
“I also decorate loin cloths with beads...and I decorate safety pins and bottles,” she says.
In addition, there is t-shirt printing.
She can’t put a finger on the year she discovered her crafting skills, but a conversation she shared with her mother shed some light. It highlights that crafting was her childhood game when growing up in her hometown of Maun.
“My mother tells me that as a little girl I liked creating things. I remember that when I was about ten years old, I made dolls with cloths,” she recalls. It’s all a gift from God that she never had training for.
Nkulu’s crafts are an eyeful that captures interest but curiosity swells with every piece of information offered in regard to her raw materials. She uses discarded paper.
To show us, she cuts some pieces of paper into pyramids and rolls them into bead shape, the job that she regards as “very tough and tiring”. She rubs glue onto the surface to make the bead intact. Then she pulls a string through the small holes to make a chain. The last step is to dip the chain in colourless paint, commonly known as coat or vanish. The beads are then put in direct sunlight to dry up.
She also pays homage to some leaves, seeds, pods, beads and berries. All these come in different sizes and shapes. She smoothens surfaces and applies vanish for more strength and shine. This type of raw material takes walkabouts in the bush to pick up.
Ostrich egg shells are most noticeable in some of her crafts, of which she says she buys from some people back in Maun. Other materials include naturals like wood, bones and porcupine quills. She also dreams of working with diamonds one day.
The simple fact of making the necklaces was to ensure Batswana maintain their culture.