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Creative entrepreneur wins R50 000

Written by Allison Cooper

The overall winner of the 2020 Innibos National Craft Awards, Johannesburg’s Oageng Manana, is going to plough his R50 000 in prize money into his emerging interior design and furniture crafting business.Oageng Manana is the overall winner of the Innibos National Craft Awards.

The 28-year-old grew up in the Jouberton township near Klerksdorp in the North West. He has a BSc in Medical Physics, acquired from the University of Pretoria, but nine months into his in-service work, he decided a more creative career would be a better fit for him.

“I decided to go where my heart took me,” he says.

Today, he is the owner of CityBirds Craft Co, which focuses primarily on interior design but also makes furniture and a range of crafts.

In 2018, he entered the Innibos National Craft Awards for the first time, and ended in the Top 60. Last year, his entry reached the organisers too late, but 2020 proved third time lucky for him, when his hand-crafted chest of drawers, inspired by the dashiki, a boldly patterned West African garment, beat 1 360 other entries to win the competition. 

“This award means a lot. It validates my decision to change careers, despite all the years I spent studying,” says Manana.

The chest of drawers that earned him first place sets the narrative for his future designs. “They will blend traditional with modern and remain highly functional.”

Second place was shared by Krugersdorp’s Pierre Fourie and Nelspruit’s Yolandi Diesel. Pierre’s entry was a majestic horse’s head crafted from hundreds of individual strands of 4mm-steel round bar, while Yolandi entered a beautiful hand-carved animal skull.

Third place went to Boksburg resident Clement Maenetja for his stunning range of ceramic plates, created to resemble the enamel plates of his youth.

This year, four categories were added to the competition, thanks to the support of the National Department of Arts and Culture. The categories recognise craftsmen who make a living from their talent and who use recycled or heritage material.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the exhibition and prizegiving had to be held online.

The Mpumalanga Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation spokesperson Sibongile Nkosi said at the online announcement of the winners on 26 June that she was pleased the organisers of the awards had adjusted to the ‘new normal’ of life during the coronavirus pandemic by creating an enabling platform for the participants’ work to be acknowledged.   

If you would like to enter next year’s competition – it’s free – like the Facebook page www.facebook.com/InnibosNationalCraftAwards/(link is external) to receive details of when the 2021 competition opens.