PALAPYE: Lapologang Keorapetse, 44, proves the idiom that says one manís trash is another manís treasure is a true reflection of life with her papier m‚chť (French for chewed paper) artwork.
It is every child‘s dream to go to school in order to have a better tomorrow, however, that was not the case for Keorapetse whose privilege to free education was taken away by her father so that she could look after her younger siblings.
Serowe-born Keorapetse told Business Monitor that being illiterate is something that she does not wish upon anyone alive since it means not having any privacy and opportunities.
“I never had the privilege to go to school and being a maid was the only qualification I had so as to secure my four children’s future by giving them the opportunity to education that I never had,” Keorapetse said.
Being driven to give only the best for her children she never allowed the adversities of life to pull her down and enrolled with Out-of-School Education and Training (OSET), which provides learning to adults who have generally been excluded from learning opportunities by age, gender and low status.
OSET then introduced her to the world of art last year where she fell in love with pottery and merged it into papier mâché art that involves using old newspapers to create magnificent pieces such as traditional clay pots (Nkgwana). Instead of using clay she uses papers. She said that her breakthrough came when OSET took her to Kanye Education Centre last year to learn how to make the pots and many other artworks such as traditional beads, earrings and necklaces.
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To make the pots she uses mostly the government daily newspaper, which she dips into water so it becomes moist then grinds it and starts with making the supporting frame from the paper using a bowl or any other vessel for the shape of the pot.
Furthermore, she will colour the surface of the pots with a colour of her choice so the paper does not surface and then decorates the pot with tree petals, stones and other natural decorative materials she gathers around at no price. “It does not take any millions to create such beautiful pottery. You just have to turn waste in your home into a treasure. Rather than tossing those out into the bin why not turn them into something incredibly beautiful and good for the earth too,” she said.
She added: “I no longer clean after people to sustain my family. People like and appreciate my work and it gives me a chance to make some money to get my children through school.”
She encouraged other people who cannot read and write to never allow their lack of education to be a setback. Rather, she said, they should give themselves a chance to education by enrolling with OSET as by so doing, it will open more doors to the future for them.