Mokolwane palm bags make their New York debut

The brand has collaborated with women in the Ngamiland region to create unique and sustainable accessories



With their highly detailed and organic mokolwane palm and leather combination bags, Lorato Bogopa of “Heritage Legacy”set out to the Big Apple recently to share her unique creations with the rest of the world. They were afforded the opportunity by the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) to exhibit their trendy bags at the recent African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade expo in New York to meet prospective agents and buyers. “We spent an extra week in New York which gave us an opportunity to sell at one of the most popular weekend market at Williamsburg in Brooklyn where we made crazy sales. At the market we realised that people out there appreciated and loved our bags so much that they were buying in groups as friends and some were buying extra as gifts for their family members,” the elated Bogopa shared.

She revealed that some of their clients even insisted that their prices were too cheap, a revelation that inspired Bogopa to set up shop permanently in the area to give the brand an international footprint. “This has boosted our confidence in our work as well as individuals because it was a test of character and resilience and we came out successful. It was not easy as it’s a new territory, but the great reception from people was uplifting.” she said.

Heritage Legacy’s ethos identifies the brand as bearers of ancient indigenous knowledge and its preservation. In creating their wares, they have collaborated with women in the Ngamiland region who still possess and actively use the ancient weaving craft that Botswana is well known for. They harvest mokolwane from the wilderness sustainably, ensuring that they do not over harvest the resource and use organic and non-toxic natural dyes in their processes which are also sourced from indigenous plants, shrubs and barks.

“Appropriation has over the years robbed minority groups the credit they deserve. We at Heritage Legacy believe in having solid relationships with those that know and understand the art well so we can both prosper. Through these relationships we discovered that we also can empower those we work with to better their livelihoods,” she said.

According to the Poverty Statistics in 2015/2016 by Statistics Botswana, Ngamiland West had 34.1 percent of households living under a dollar a day, 55 percent of whom are female headed, creating a strong link between gender and poverty. By providing sustainable employment to women in these areas Bogopa says the organisation has a direct impact by playing a larger role in the commercial activity of the area whilst keeping the family structure intact by establishing production in these villages.

“Inequality plays a large role in perpetuating poverty and its risks and it is our responsibility to tackle it however possible. With the dominance of women in our human power project, we assist to uplift the status of women in the society and enhance their access to economic opportunities,” she concluded.

Heritage Legacy’s wares are currently available at the Silo Market next to the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa at the Capetown Waterfront and on their website