EL designer scoops top prize EL designer scoops top prize
East London designer Nangamso Dana (26) walked away with a R15,000 top prize in the apparel category at the fourth edition of the Lithuba... EL designer scoops top prize

East London designer Nangamso Dana (26) walked away with a R15,000 top prize in the apparel category at the fourth edition of the Lithuba Lakho (This Is Your Chance) Competition and Exhibition Awards held  in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

Trading as Royal Legasee, Dana submitted a cape/neckpiece with an afrocentric and craft inspiration which earned her a first category win in a design competition.

In 2018, she was a runner-up at the PPC Imaginarium Awards where she submitted a top and two dresses which were composed of a fusion of the mediums of wool, textile and cement in order to accommodate the competition concept.

An initiative of the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) and the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum in conjunction with the Mandela Bay Development Agency, the Lithuba Lakho competition recognises the top crafters in the Eastern Cape.

It is designed to promote top export quality craft from a diverse range of disciplines.

Dana, who has no formal design training, specialises in mostly conceptual brand work using a combination of wool and textile. She works with exhibition pieces and ready to wear collections.

“I am really excited because this is the first time I have a won a category. Although I have always been a crafty person doing illustrations, beadwork and drawing since high school, I only discovered I am good with craft from being experimental.

“I am hoping to get into international competitions as a result of this award in order to test my competitiveness. Being runner up at the PPC Imaginarium Awards led to increased sales and from the winnings I was able to produce more creative works,” Dana says.

This year the competition which celebrates and recognises the best creative works in the craft industry attracted 69 creative work submissions at 10 venues across the Eastern Cape.

“A total of 10 crafts were submitted. Four crafters walked away with the top prize of R15,000 each in materials and machinery in each of the four categories – Homeware, traditional wear, contemporary accessory and apparel.

For the first time, there was only one winner from the eastern side of the province with Dana taking the apparel category, Nozuko Nqonqoza, Amanda Qeqe and Lookout Sibanda all from Port Elizabeth taking the contemporary accessory, traditional wear and home wear categories respectively.

The industry has grown over the years and the competition gets tougher each year and this is evident in the growing quality of submissions,” says ECDC creative industries sector specialist Yandiswa Sodaba.

The competition has grown in popularity attracting partners such as the hosts the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, Mandela Bay Development Agency and the Department of Small Business Development.

ECDC chief executive officer Ndzondelelo Dlulane says the creative industries possess a potential to contribute significantly to the provincial gross domestic product (GDP), alleviating poverty, reducing inequality and the high unemployment rate challenge faced by the country and the Eastern Cape.

“The creative sector can also improve social cohesion and inclusion for SMMEs in both the rural and urban areas. ECDC intervenes in this sector in a very significant manner. ECDC arranges a number of trade platforms within the country to provide access to markets for the SMMEs in the industry, most of whom are located in rural areas.

In 2017/18, ECDC participated at nine creative industry trade platforms which are aimed at improving the competitiveness of craft entrepreneurs. In 2017/18, a total of 110 SMMEs were helped to participate in these events. These businesses generated sales worth R762,799 form these events,” says Dlulane.

ECDC also enjoys a partnership with the Department of Small Business Development of R2.5million per year to support the industry through market access, training and workshops to improve their products.

ECDC is also managing a craft shop which is now fully-functional in Nahoon, East London. The shop sells traditional Eastern Cape craft that is produced in the province. The craft shop houses products from 98 crafters from across the Eastern Cape. The shop generated sales worth R406 000 in 2017/18.

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