This cloth was created to commemorate Nelson Mandela's 85th birthday in 2003. The Mapula (meaning ‘Mother of Rain’) Embroidery Project was started in 1991 in the Winterveld, northwest of Pretoria. It as an income-generating project for women in the area, teaching technical and business skills and developing visual artistry. The works depict everyday life, special occasions and significant world events, including the soccer World Cup, Nelson Mandela’s various birthdays, national elections, ‘swenking’ culture and the 2004 tsunami. No doubt, cloths depicting the COVID-19 pandemic will be forthcoming.
The works have been exhibited all over the world including in Swaziland, Botswana, Germany, France, England and at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. The cloths were given as diplomatic gifts during the Mbeki presidency and have been presented to HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Barack Obama among other Heads of State.