Thembeka Nkamba Van Wyk
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My name is Tembeka Nkamba Van Wyk. I always call myself a country girl. This is because for most of my childhood life I grew up in the village. The village made me who I am.
I think, I walk, I dress, I talk like a village artist. Most of the people in the village did not buy or pay for things. They made them with their hands. This was my grooming. We baked bread, scones and pudding. We didn’t buy any of these. We made our own clothes and toys. No one bought dolls or cars. Boys and girls made these themselves.
I have worked in government, for the SABC and in the private sector. I have also been employed by IIE, an organisation based in Princeton, New Jersey in the USA as a facilitator for standardised testing services in South African Universities.
My joy and satisfaction only came when I formally started talking Beads, an organisation that promotes Arts, crafts and Indigenous Knowledge Systems. Later I started Ngezandla Zethu (With Our Hands) which is a training organisation in the Arts. Since then I have won several awards including:
The Gauteng Arts and Culture Development Award
The Sanlam, Sowetan Entrepreneur of the Year Award with a focus on the Arts
The SABC3, Checkers Business Woman of the Year Award
Woman of Substance Award by Tribute Magazine
Doctor of Philosophy conferred by the University of Nelson Mandela in April 2011
The 2 organisations I started mentor unemployed women and youth and people with disabilities. We also partner with the Spar supermarket in Monument Park to feed those who are too vulnerable to be self-sufficient.
We believe in working in teams and in the spirit of Ubuntu. We share whatever we have. That is why we are not encouraging the me, me, me and myself fame making. We believe it isolates the few successful ones from the majority who still strive to achieve and sometimes to just be.