“In the old days they wouldn’t wear clothes, just inkciyo (beads),” Makinana said. “Isidla were worn by men (like loincloths). Women developed big necklaces.” With civilization, things changed. “Cloth, irhonya, our mothers started sewing by hand like a dress.”
These beaded pieces and clothing are still worn at weddings and traditional ceremonies. Hats called isankwane, which Makinana makes, also have a significance in the culture.
“Our fathers wore them for negotiations for marriage,” she said. “If they were not worn, then there were no negotiations. It is still a tradition. If they do not have the hats they are unrespectful, it shows they don’t respect them.”
Still, with so few people having the knowledge and skills, the future of these sacred traditions looks bleak.
If people don’t start learning, Makinana said, “that would be bad, that would be very bad. The whole part of our culture would disappear.”