Princess Majola says it all started with her name
DURBAN - “When I was little I used to ask my family why I was called Princess,” she says, “That’s when my grandmother would start on her stories. She would tell about how people used to send messages with beads, each colour meant something. She would show me old photographs of her family with the ceremonial sticks and how precious they were too her. She even had one to show me and taught me how to bead. I still have my first beaded necklace with its message of love.”
These early childhood memories and the strong storytelling tradition that she says was part of her growing up were never far from her thoughts and comforted her during difficult times.
At aged 15 before she could finish matric, Majola, now in her 30s, decided to leave her school in Botha’s Hill’s valley of a 1000 Hills to help her family.
“It was a really bad time for us. My grandmother was getting old and my older brothers were trying to find work. They needed someone young and strong to help in the home. Only later did I realise that not finishing my schooling was going to make it difficult for me to find work. I have three children of my own and if there’s one thing they will do, it is finish their schooling.”
It was during these tough years that Majola remembered the bead work that her grandmother had taught her.
“I had heard from other people in the Valley about the Hillcrest Aids Centre and how they were always looking for good beaders to make stuff for their shop. I went there and they asked me if I could make angels for Christmas, which I could make at home and I could earn some money. It was my best Christmas. I think I made about 100 of them.”
From her range of angels, woolly pins and delicate dragonflies, it was soon apparent to the Centre’s Woza Moya craft team that Majola was a star beader in the old tradition and more importantly had a good work ethic.
“Sometimes people are only given one chance to prove themselves” says Majola who chats to us while her hands are busy decorating a traditional fighting stick. This was it for me. I made sure that my work was neat and delivered exactly on time. They used to call me Miss Clockwork because I never let them down. For me it meant that I could earn a steady income and have a business of my own”.
While she is able to work from home on her assignments for the shop, she also gives her time on Fridays to oversee some of the work being done at the centre and to train newcomers to crafting and beading.
“Helping others is a big thing for me. I would be nowhere if people hadn’t given me a chance. “Poverty is a terrible thing. I know that jobs are difficult to get and so many people are out of work. I believe that getting poor people up and going with small businesses like mine is what needs to happen. I think that would make such a big difference in our country.”