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Women in STEM – Dr. Diana Kululanga

I started my clinical work as a student, and witnessed the deaths of many children from diseases that can be prevented

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Women in STEM - Dr. Diana Kululanga Asante Afrika Magazine
Dr. Diana Kululanga
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Saving people’s lives has always been what Dr. Diana Pempho Lisosa Kululanga wanted to do from a very young age. She tells us about her journey to becoming a medical doctor, and why she chose that career path.

Can you tell us about yourself? What do you do, and what does your job entail?

I am a medical doctor by profession. I work at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital  (QECH), which is the biggest tertiary hospital in Malawi. I see patients with different conditions, and work with the QECH health personnel to manage their diseases and conditions.  

Women in STEM - Dr. Diana Kululanga Asante Afrika Magazine
Dr Diana Kululanga

Was that always your dream job?

Yes, yes, and yes, a million times yes. 

You mentioned that you chose to do medicine because you wanted to make a direct and almost immediate impact on people’s lives. Can you tell us what you mean by that?

A doctor knows a whole lot about a patient; in one conversation I learn of a person’s illness, beliefs, family, social, economic and mental status, hence I am able to address needs in all these areas. While we are all doing so much for mankind, most are doing it indirectly through policies, laws, education and other activities; yet as a doctor, I work directly with my patients and help them directly. The direct impact of helping a patient recover from a point of death to life again, is joy unspeakable!

Biology was your favourite subject at school and you actually graduated high school as the best Biology student. What other subjects did you focus on in order to qualify for medicine at university and which university did you attend?

I focused on science subjects – Mathematics, Physical Science, and of course English. I Attended University of Malawi, College of Medicine, the only college in Malawi that trains medical doctors.

Women in STEM - Dr. Diana Kululanga Asante Afrika Magazine
Dr Diana Kululanga

If you had not been accepted to study medicine for example, what other career path would you have chosen?

Architecture, because beautifully designed, decent houses make me happy.

You were raised by a team of very strong women; a single mother and an overseas aunt who paid your university tuition for over five years out of six, as well as other educated and professional women in your family, including your grandmother. In a poor country like Malawi where girls are told that they cannot go far in school but should get married instead, how important is it to you to educate the girl child? What benefits does educating the girl child bring to a family and to a nation as a whole?

It is of ultimate importance that a nation invests in educating a girl and boy child. I believe that a nation needs the special qualities that distinguish men and women to achieve great things; without the other, there is a delay or a failure in achieving the vision a country bears. An educated girl child is a huge asset to a country and family. An educated woman will always make sure that her children get educated, like my mom did. She encouraged me, believed in me, and supported me. There was never a day where I felt like I couldn’t do anything because I am a girl. She did not just say it, but she showed us that a woman can do anything, for example by riding a bike daily when going to work. I will forever be indebted to my family for the culture of educating a girl child. My great grandparents, Mr and Mrs Chiphwanya, saw potential and believed in their daughters. To them, their daughters were not just objects for marriage, but seeds worth watering, and the harvest still feeds the generations that follow. I have grandmothers and aunts who have worked,  in fact led, in the corporate world, and there is no doubt in me that I will take the same road. I draw my inspiration from my aunt, Mrs Maureen Kachingwe, who is a lawyer, and I’m so thrilled and blessed to be the first doctor in the family.

Medical school was obviously not very easy; can you tell us about the challenges you faced as a student and moreso as a female medical student? How did you overcome those challenges?

The challenges were from internal and external sources. My internal challenge was the ability to work out my life on my own. I had spent the previous years of school following schedules, and now I had to develop a schedule that works, given the numerous things I had to learn, study and practice, while having only myself as the overseer of the schedule. Secondly, there were more males than females in my class, and as such, I had to work hard to survive and not really to excel.

The external challenges were the financial challenges; whilst I was in my second year of college,the government decided to increase the tuition fees. I am grateful that my aunt Angella Laura Horton did not back down. However, I still had hiccups in terms of my other needs, other than tuition fees. However, this motivated me to start considering starting a business .

You are now in the internship phase of your training, which you will be completing in May next year; tell us more about that… the triumphs, the hardships faced, and especially as a woman in a male dominated field?

Well, well, well… the first hardship is the fact that female doctors are assumed to be nurses by patients. It takes a great deal of patience to explain that you are actually a doctor.

The second hardship is patients doubting you because you are a female. They have always been treated by male doctors, and the presence of a female doctor does not sink well within them.

Thirdly, some comments made by colleagues are just gender biased, but I remind myself of the reason why I started on this journey, which is to save lives.  

Once you are done with your internship next year, that will mark eight years of your training to become a medical doctor. What has motivated you to stay strong and keep on pushing to achieve your goal?

I am results oriented, hence I look forward to the end of things, and I endure the process, just like my master Jesus, who for what was set before him endured the cross.  

The financial benefits of being a medical intern in Malawi are not that great. How do you stay motivated to get up and go to work every day and keep on pushing towards your goal?

Medical internship is not the end, it’s just a step in my career. I choose the benefits of this step above financial benefits. This is the step where you learn to be more responsible over another person’s life, and where your decisions have an effect of life and death, hence  they have to be made with the right reasons, and sometimes defended. These are skills needed beyond patient management, but life in general .   

You are a very industrious young woman, and some time last year you had to find ways to fund yourself, as your mum’s work contract had just come to an end. Can you tell us about your initial business ventures which you embarked on with your business partner to fund your well-being during medical school?

I have embarked on several ventures with my business partner Dalitso Kaluwa, and we keep learning. We started in 2016 by selling hair extensions (weaves), and then milk scones.After that we bought a sausage-making machine and sold sausages, and eventually we turned to baking cakes. We had and still have big dreams, and knowing we didn’t have any other source of money, we got into business. Yes, there was a time when I had to support myself with other needs, for example processing paperwork for my internship and my graduation, as well as assisting with other bills at home. My last option was to use the business money, on account that I would return it to the business, which I did after I started receiving my internship salary.

Women in STEM - Dr. Diana Kululanga Asante Afrika Magazine
Dr. Diana Kululanga

What were the successes and failures of those business ventures and what did you learn from that experience?

The ultimate success is to maintain partnership. Truth be told, black people seem not to trust each other, and hardly work together for a greater goal. They would rather compete with each other than work together. I count this partnership as a great success, because we have been through the lows and the highs together, and we have managed to stay together.

We have lost money before, not once, not even twice. Business on paperwork is overrated, (laughs). I mean, its good to be positive, but never disregard the threats and weaknesses, which is what we would miss in our plans previously.We have failed to win bids before. When I was going into my final year of college, I wanted to run the college tuckshop. I wanted this opportunity so bad, but unfortunately our proposal was turned down, despite being visionary, good and creative. We have failed to convince a customer before, and worse things still disappointed us.

I have learnt important lessons from each failure. Firstly, you have to keep going regardless of what happens because you only make progress if you keep moving. Secondly, always seek counsel, because there is nothing new under the sun. There is someone willing to share their wisdom, whether for free or at a fee. Never the less, the reward is worth it, for in the multitude of counselors, there is safety (Proverbs 11:14). Thirdly, it takes humility, patience, and a particular level of commitment to a greater goal, to start a small business. One must remember where they are going, and stay focused.  

You have a very industrious circle of friends as well. How important is that in motivating each other, and assisting each other to get through the difficult periods in life?

They say “Show me your friends, and I will show you who you are.” I don’t think you can keep drawing motivation from distant relationships and stay motivated. Sometimes reality hits, and you need real motivation. My circle of friends inspires me big time, I never feel alone, and I enjoy talking with them about business because it is something we all relate to. My boyfriend, Confidence Banda, runs 3in1 Events, planning weddings and other events. My business partner’s boyfriend, Peter Mwamlima, owns  CEPHA Biomedical Solutions, and I have another pair of friends, Dorice and Zengani, who  own Donga Investments. My study partner, Dr. Josephine Gondwe, sells perfumes, and my mentor owns several businesses. There are also other ladies in my circle who sell second hand clothes.

After your business trial and error phase, you then resorted to baking and selling cakes. Tell us more about that. Did you do a course to learn how to bake and decorate cakes? How is that business doing?

Yes, we attended a course on cake decorating on several occasions for the development of our baking skills. This has been the longest time we have been in a particular business, and it keeps getting better. We have grown our customer base as our skills have been improving through investing our time and dedication. We have also employed a lady to help us, thereby contributing to the President’s vision of 1 million jobs. I consider this good progress.

Women in STEM - Dr. Diana Kululanga Asante Afrika Magazine
DnD Cakes

How do you market your business?

We mainly use social media and posters. We are on Instagram and @dr_dee_dnd_cakes is our handle. We are currently working on our Facebook page.  

Women in STEM - Dr. Diana Kululanga Asante Afrika Magazine
DnD Cakes

You sell your products even at the hospital. With the usual notion that doctors are highly paid, how do you manage to put your pride aside and decide that even as a doctor, you are not shy to move around marketing your products?

One of the lessons I have learnt in business is to be humble, and to commit to a greater goal – I have to do this now for the vision at hand. I meet other doctors selling custom made bags or cosmetics, and it’s just the norm of the day.

Where do you see your business in the next few years?

It’s true that one cannot buy happiness, but one must certainly buy cake, for it is always a good starting point. I therefore want DnD to have spaces in town like coffee shops, where everyone can walk in and enjoy the ultimate pleasure of life – eating cake.

Women in STEM - Dr. Diana Kululanga Asante Afrika Magazine
DnD Cakes

How do you manage to balance your studies, your work and your business?

I only commit to what is worthy of my time. I give each of these the most of me whenever required, and never at the expense of the other. My business partner is also very supportive, and working with her certainly lightens the load.  

Women in STEM - Dr. Diana Kululanga Asante Afrika Magazine
Diana’s Business Partner, Dalitso Kalua, a Medical Laboratory Scientist working with Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust. 

Learning is a long and continuous process in the medical field. When you are done with your internship, what is the next step? If you are to specialise, what would you specialise in, and how many more years would that take?

After my internship, I want to study for a Master’s Degree in Infectious Diseases, as I have a keen interest in elimination and prevention of infectious diseases which are a huge burden in developing countries. After that, I will specialise in paediatrics.

Why would you want to specialise in that particular field?

When I was 5 years old, our neighbour’s son died from Malaria; it was the first time I ever saw a young person die, and it was strange because I used to think that death was for the grown-ups. I had kind of forgotten about this, until I started my clinical work as a student, and witnessed the deaths of many children from diseases that can be prevented. I therefore would like to join the team that works hard to save the lives of these little angels.

Women in STEM - Dr. Diana Kululanga Asante Afrika Magazine
Dr. Diana Kululanga

What are your parting words for a young African girl who is facing challenges but would also love to become a doctor one day?

There is no obstacle that can overcome your desire. Consider your dream as water – through persistence, water strikes through a rock. Never take the advice of those who say you can’t, for they do not exist when you close your eyes and see yourself in a lab-coat, using a stethoscope. When the desire to go after your dream seems to fade, water it with faith through prayer, for this is the evidence of things not yet seen (Hebrews 11:1), and there is  a greater force working for you, not against you. Your story will inspire many, so don’t let them down. I, Dr Diana Kululanga will always be cheering you on, screaming and rooting for you! I did it, you can do it too!

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Dalitso Chinguwo

    December 6, 2020 at 6:24 am

    This is inspiring.
    I am feeling challenged and motivated to do more with my life. Keep up the good work Dr Diana

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Creative Outlet

Oyedele Abiodun – Nigeria’s Master of Fine Art

His close proximity to nature and his love for outdoor features, further enhance his artistic talent.

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“I paint what I see… by arranging colours side by side to form a unified whole; to enjoy the obvious that may be consciously hidden or otherwise. As perceived, light is the key that traverse in my paintings, unveiling the beauty of nature and its components in their various values. The world as represented by our environment, is beautiful to be a unique subject matter. ”                                         

Oyedele abiodun’s artist statement
Oyedele Abiodun - Nigeria's Master of Fine Art Asante Afrika Magazine
Oyedele Abiodun Fine Art:
On The Look Out, Oil on canvas, 90 x 90cm, 2019

Born in 1991, Oyedele Abiodun Oyewumi, from Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Nigeria, is a master of fine art whose talent is unmatched. Having discovered his love for Art in high school, and even as a sciences student doing maths, physics, chemistry, etc., the kind and bubbly artist went on to studied fine art at university. Fascinated by the happenings in his environment from his teenage years, his decision to pursue art as a profession was inspired simply by his love and passion for Art. His close proximity to nature and his love for outdoor features, further enhance his artistic talent.   

Oyedele Abiodun - Nigeria's Master of Fine Art Asante Afrika Magazine
On Her Mind, Oil on Canvas, 75cm x 60cm, 2019

When asked if he is happy with the choice that he made of not pursuing a career in Sciences and following his heart to do Art, Oyedele said he is absolutely happy with his decision, and even more so because his parents support him completely, in all ways, and they never judged him or put pressure on him to do so called “stable careers” in the sciences sector, but instead, they encouraged him to follow his heart and do what he loved and enjoyed.

Oyedele Abiodun - Nigeria's Master of Fine Art Asante Afrika Magazine
Behind Her Smile, Oil on Canvas, 75cm x 60cm, 2019

Oyedele graduated from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH), Ogbomoso, in 2015 with a Second-Class Upper Degree in Fine and Applied Arts and a concentration in painting. He majored in Painting and minored in sculpture. Says Oyedele, “I believe Art and science goes hand in hand, in terms of material used for the creation of art, the form of Art, and the process. Science and technology give me more understanding about how art materials are made at the factory, and how they can be improvised and produced locally. For example, one would ask, “How can we make the process of creating an art piece faster, durable and efficient?” Technology has been able to answer these questions.”

Oyedele Abiodun - Nigeria's Master of Fine Art Asante Afrika Magazine
Her Livelihood, Oil on Canvas, 90cm x 90cm, 2019

After graduating from LAUTECH, Oyedele went on to do a year of National Service, which is compulsory in Nigeria. He served in a village called Daudawa, Faskari Local Government Area, Kastina State, Nigeria, as a class teacher in a public Secondary School. “The experience was a great one”, says Oyedele, and he was able to impact and inspire the young ones positively. He also enjoyed meeting people from a different state, who have different cultures and a different identity altogether.

Oyedele Abiodun - Nigeria's Master of Fine Art Asante Afrika Magazine
Hope, 90cm x 60cm, Oil on Canvas, 2019

Upon completion of his National Service, Oyedele taught Fine Art at Gomal Baptist College for a year. His focus was to help the young ones foster the same enthusiasm he has for Art. “What excited me most was the passion my students have for Art; this was expressed through their willingness to come to my office for additional drawing class during their spare time. It was a great experience.”

Oyedele Abiodun - Nigeria's Master of Fine Art Asante Afrika Magazine
Her Voice, Her Strength, Oil on Canvas, 90cm x 75cm, 2019

Currently, the fine art creative is actually pursuing a Master’s Degree in Technology in Painting (M.Tech.) at LAUTECH, whereupon on completion, he will emerge a true “Master of Fine Art”. M.Tech is equivalent to Master of Fine Art (M.F.A.), and it holds the same qualification advantages as the M. F. A.

Oyedele says he markets his art personally via social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and an online art gallery. Says Oyedele, “The advent of online art marketing has been a great help to the emerging artists to share their work to the rest of the world. Ultimately, it has been a real lifesaver.”

Oyedele Abiodun - Nigeria's Master of Fine Art Asante Afrika Magazine
The Making Of Beauty II, Oil on Canvas, 90cm x 60cm, 2019

What he enjoys the most about being an artist is the feeling of being at peace, and the sense of fulfillment whenever he finishes a piece. According to Oyedele, one of his biggest achievements as a professional artist was having one of his pieces titled ‘Catch Them Young’, recently selected for the global conversation exhibition UN75, 2020) by the United Nations. “It was a great honor”, says the artist. He has also taken part in some exhibitions, including ‘The Other Side’ (Alliance Francaise, Ibadan, 2019), ‘Broken Earth’ (Nexus Exchange Nigeria, Lagos, 2019), and an international group exhibition, ‘Seen Form’ (HYB4 Galarie, Prague, 2020).

According to Abiodun, obstacles faced as an artist in his state and in Nigeria wholly, include low patronage and very few opportunities for emerging artists. “It is very difficult financially, because you don’t always sell a piece every day”. He thinks that to address these obstacles, provision of more funds to the Art sector can be looked into, and more opportunities can be created and availed to upcoming artists.

Oyedele Abiodun - Nigeria's Master of Fine Art Asante Afrika Magazine
Catch Them Young, Oil on Canvas, 90cm x 90cm, 2019

His parting words to a young artist who would like to study art professionally but is being discouraged by family or society are, “Do what you like doing, follow your heart, don’t give up. Consistency is the key, keep at it.”

Connect with Oyedele:

oyedeleabiodun@gmail.com

www.instagram.com/oyedeleabiodunfineart

www.facebook.com/oyedeleabiodunoyewumi

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

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Creative Outlet

A Chat With Abstract Artist Omega Masuku

“I look around me for inspiration; I am inspired primarily by the things that happen in my community. My work is a reflection of my reality.”

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Omega Masuku Art
Omega Masuku Art
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Hazel Lifa

Of all art forms, abstract art is definitely the most subjective, and at times misunderstood. Despite this fact, Omega Masuku has stood her ground and established herself as an abstract painter. The Bulawayo based artist was born to parents Morris Masuke, a self-employed refrigerator technician, and Viola Masuku, a stay at home mom, on February 22nd, 1999 in Mount Darwin, Harare. She currently resides in Mzilikazi, and did her high schooling at Sobukhazi High.

Abstract Art

Relating to or denoting art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but rather seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, colours, and textures.

https://www.lexico.com/definition/abstract
A Chat With Abstract Artist Omega Masuku Asante Afrika Magazine
Abstract Artist, Omega Masuku

Omega has collaborated with an impressive number of artists and participated in exhibitions internationally that have cemented her status in the Bulawayo art scene. She has worked with a number of artists like Ghislan from France, Zimbabwean artist Owen Maseko, and Charlie Bhebhe, to name just a few. Omega’s work was featured in the moving Rembrandt exhibition, which celebrated Rembrandt’s paintings’ 360th anniversary.

A Chat With Abstract Artist Omega Masuku Asante Afrika Magazine
Omega Masuku Art
A Chat With Abstract Artist Omega Masuku Asante Afrika Magazine
Omega Masuku Art

Omega has also donated her skills to painting workshops in hospitals, working with fellow artists from Scotland whom she went on to do an online exhibition with. She managed to squeeze in a few minutes in her busy schedule to talk to us, where she draws attention to the need for more female artists.

“Abstract art is like creating your own world, and making people live in it.”

How did you get started on your artistic journey?

I have to say art is a talent one has to be born with; l started seriously perusing art when l was 12 years old.

Did you attend school for your art, if so which one, and how was the experience?

Yes, l studied at Harare Polytechnical where I did Art and Design, and also Art and Visual Art. After graduating I moved to Bulawayo, where I went to the Mzilikazi Craft Centre and studied for a year, before I got called to work at the National Art gallery.

A Chat With Abstract Artist Omega Masuku Asante Afrika Magazine
Omega Masuku Art
A Chat With Abstract Artist Omega Masuku Asante Afrika Magazine
Omega Masuku Art

When did you know you wanted to do art as an actual job?

I knew in high school, in form 2. l realised that I’m always happy when I’m drawing or sketching.

What was the first-ever piece you made? What did you think about it? Do you think you did a good job?

My first piece I did was titled Broken Promises. l think it was great because I got a lot of positive feedback on the painting from my colleagues. I didn’t expect them to like it as much as they did, and that really boosted my confidence in my craft.

A Chat With Abstract Artist Omega Masuku Asante Afrika Magazine
Omega Masuku Art

When you create, what inspires your work, and what is in your artistic process?

 I look around me for inspiration; I am inspired primarily by the things that happen in my community. My work is a reflection of my reality.

Abstract Art is so subjective; how do you deal with the many different interpretations of your work?

I learnt early on that art is putting myself out there, and that people have opinions, but that shouldn’t stop me from creating. Abstract art is like creating your own world, and making people live in it.

Most African people don’t see art as a practical profession, how have you dealt with this?

It’s a bit challenging and annoying (Masuku rolls her eyes), but I have tried with a few other female artists like Nhlanhla Mathe and Zanele Masuku, to introduce art at schools. I try to support young upcoming artists like myself as much as I can. Educating parents about art also goes a long way – inviting them to exhibitions and to galleries.

A Chat With Abstract Artist Omega Masuku Asante Afrika Magazine
Omega Masuku Art

How did your parents feel about your choice, did they have other ideas for your future?

Actually, my mom didn’t want me to become an artist; she wanted me to be a doctor. It was a challenge to make her understand that art makes me happy, but she’s coming around.

Do you look up to other artists, and if so, who?

Yes, l do look up to my mentor, Gorge Masarira, an amazing artist and teacher.

How is the art scene in Bulawayo?

With the current economic struggles, it has been slow. Art is considered a luxury you know, and many don’t have a penny to spare. Before the covid19 pandemic, there were workshops where networking was done, I could do collaborations with other artists and galleries, and those were great opportunities for marketing one’s work. 

At times your work doesn’t qualify for an exhibition; for example, they give you a theme and a short amount of time to work on it, and your work doesn’t make the cut, which is always a downer, but you keep moving forward. Growing pains. 

If you couldn’t be an artist, what would you be doing instead?

I would definitely want to still be linked to art somehow, maybe as an art teacher or a professor in Visual Art.

No job is perfect, what are some of the issues you face in your profession?

Yoh! Where do I begin?! As a female in the male-dominated Bulawayo art scene, it is hard to be taken seriously. I constantly have to put myself out there, and work twice as hard to get the same attention and credit, as a guy whose technique and skill are inferior to mine. The guys in the industry are forever trying to make things about romance, but seriously, I don’t have time for that. 

Another challenge is marketing one’s work; it’s hard to get the word out there about your art. Social media is a double edged sword, because while it promotes your work, it also opens the door to theft and plagiarism. Someone can easily take your work, change a few things, and pass it off as theirs.  

A Chat With Abstract Artist Omega Masuku Asante Afrika Magazine
Omega Masuku Art

What advice do you have for other aspiring abstract artists, or artists in general?

I will say don’t let the fear strike you down, keep on painting, you will get there. Trust your talent and avoid being in competition with everyone around you. Also, collaborations are vital in art.

Omega is also a capable fine artist, but favours abstract art more. For those interested in getting in contact with the artist for a personal piece, or collaboration, or exhibitions, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter, Omega Masuku; Instagram Natasha_natie_ or email her at simzmegarts@gmail.com.

Interviewed by Hazel Lifa

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Fashion & Beauty

South African Designer, Busisiwe Shordy Nyembe, Talks About Her Trendy Brand, “#IKnit”

Upcoming Civil Engineer and creative Busi Shordy Nyembe talks about her trendy fashion brand, #iKnit.

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South African Designer, Busisiwe Shordy Nyembe, Talks About Her Trendy Brand, "#IKnit" Asante Afrika Magazine
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Some may think of hand-knitting as a skill or an art which is long outdated. Having learnt the skill from her grandmother, the young and talented creative and upcoming Civil Engineer has modernised the trade, and is making fashionable pieces which appeal to the younger generation.

South African Designer, Busisiwe Shordy Nyembe, Talks About Her Trendy Brand, "#IKnit" Asante Afrika Magazine
Busisiwe Shordy Nyembe

There’s so much to say when summarising who I am and what I do… but briefly, I’d say I’m a creative at heart. Born and raised in Orange Farm and 27 years of age, I’m a full time Civil Engineering student at South West Gauteng College, a singer-songwriter, a Craft Designer, a gym fanatic, and an entrepreneur. I believe in dreams, and the sky is the limit.

Living and spending lots of time with my grandmother had me learning to do everything that she would do with her hands. My Gran used to knit duvet covers from wool, and door mats from plastic. As she would knit, I would be right there next to her, learning the craft. I remember when I was in grade 5, we had an Art & Culture project to make something hand-made; I made a colourful beanie and got full marks for it. 

South African Designer, Busisiwe Shordy Nyembe, Talks About Her Trendy Brand, "#IKnit" Asante Afrika Magazine
#IKnit Designs: Muse – IG @Czah_themodel; Photographer – IG @Jusicenasphotography

Busi says she hand-knits all her designs, and they are inspired by the current diverse fashion trends, since her clients buy her products and wear them with other clothes that complement them pretty well. ”The patterns of my designs are made with the right size needle, so they come out beautifully. When my clients place an order, they get to be part of the design process. They get to pick their own wool colour which they would love their designs in, and that makes it special enough for them, and they have an input in the creative process. For instance, they can decide if they would like to make the ballet longer, or the socks shorter.” 

I make my designs modern by using modern wool colours and knitting patterns that complement clothes worn in the modern day era. I also do a lot of colourful stripes because they are currently the in-thing. I cater for everybody, both the young and old market, and I also have designs for kiddies.

South African Designer, Busisiwe Shordy Nyembe, Talks About Her Trendy Brand, "#IKnit" Asante Afrika Magazine
#IKnit Designs: Muse – IG @Czah_themodel; Photographer – IG @Jusicenasphotography#IKnit Designs

Growing up in Orange Farm within a close-knit community where almost everyone knows everyone, definitely made it easier for me to get a clientele for my products. When I was starting out the business, the marketing medium was word of mouth, and most of my clients were from Orange Farm, including people that I knew personally. It’s only when I posted on Facebook and other social media platforms that I reached a broader clientele. 

Right now I use all my social media platforms to market my products. That’s where I upload my work and that’s also where my clients post and tag, showing appreciation for my skills. Many other people see the posts, love the products and place their orders. This means of advertising is very effective and my business is definitely profitable, and it is growing rapidly.

South African Designer, Busisiwe Shordy Nyembe, Talks About Her Trendy Brand, "#IKnit" Asante Afrika Magazine
#IKnit Designs: Muse – IG @Czah_themodel; Photographer – IG @Jusicenasphotography

Shordy says that she has not always been a patient person, but knitting has taught her to be patient. It has also taught her to be disciplined when it comes to her time management, in order to be able to study and workout. When knitting, a lot of time is spent being seated, facing down and using her hands, so she works out to stretch and relax her muscles. She says that knitting has also taught her to be calm and to respect everybody, because everyone is a potential client. 

As Shordy is the creative brain, I asked her if she has anyone who assists her with the financial side of her business and she responded… “My mother helps me out to manage the business side of the venture and her support is amazing.” Shordy believes that it’s very important for small business owners to do business literacy courses in order to better manage their finances so that they know how to use their finances to manage the growth and sustainability of the business. “Every business has 5-10years to reach their full potential, and not putting money back into the business might paralyze it,” says Nyembe.  

South African Designer, Busisiwe Shordy Nyembe, Talks About Her Trendy Brand, "#IKnit" Asante Afrika Magazine
#IKnit Designs: Muse – IG @Czah_themodel; Photographer – IG @Jusicenasphotography

When she starts to produce her products at a larger scale, Shordy says that in order to maintain her standards and personal touch, she aims to continue treating every single order as her only order, and maintain the communication level with her clients so that they still have an input in the making process of their order, and they will still get to pick their favourite wool colour.

Knitting is a special skill which is passed down from generation to generation, and Shordy has already begun the process of teaching the skill to two young people in order to keep the craft alive.

South African Designer, Busisiwe Shordy Nyembe, Talks About Her Trendy Brand, "#IKnit" Asante Afrika Magazine
#IKnit Designs: Muse – IG @Czah_themodel; Photographer – IG @Jusicenasphotography

In parting, Shordy advises young people who would love to learn a craft and make a living out of it to follow their hearts, because people will pull them astray. The most important thing, she says, is to start! “Stop over-planning and just start, you will learn everything else as you go along,” says Nyembe.

South African Designer, Busisiwe Shordy Nyembe, Talks About Her Trendy Brand, "#IKnit" Asante Afrika Magazine
Busisiwe Shordy Nyembe

Connect with Shordy through her page on Facebook, @ShordyNyembe.

Interviewed by Gugu Mpofu

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