The magic carpet story
If the Freedom Challenge could be represented by an item, for me it would be a blanket. Not just any blanket, as you can get a perfectly good one for the price of a fastfood meal at the PEP store in Prince Albert. My 2008 model comes from the House of Sefate in Lesotho, and was negotiated between Lehana (race founder David Waddilove) and the King’s appointed emissary as these blankets are for only for young men who have gone through the ordeal of initiation so can’t just be bought over a counter. How much of that previous sentence is actually true is not that important, it has meaning for me and the sight of the blanket and cuddling under it when it’s chilly.
When the 2021 FC winter series kicked off there was amongst the sponsorship drive a raffle for a handmade FC themed carpet from Centacow mission. Now I have been to Centacow just once, and I didn’t hang around, but can just imagine an old loom assembled by Trappist monks in the 19th century being worked by hand in this modern day world we live in.
Raffle ticket bought, I still wanted to increase my chances of owning one of these carpets as my wife started to get a little bit excited by the prospect. The easiest way was to rather not leave it up to chance, so I got hold of Janine Oosthuisen who was organizing the raffle if a commissioned carpet was possible, and what it would cost. After discussing it with Nonhlanthla (the lady handling it all in Centacow), we got a thumbs up, and were told to do a basic design.
I got the kids and their crayons out, a few mockups were done and (mainly assisted by mom) we had our design. We didn’t really know exactly how the process would work, and if ours was even possible on a loom but it was a starting point. This got scanned in and sent through the power of a whatsapp message. It turns out the next process is that this needs to go to Nonhlanthla’s daughter as she only has a basic feature phone (ie. SMS or call).
At about this time the raffle was held, and while we didn’t win it we knew our own one was in the queue. The next update was that the design is good, but there are funds required to buy the wool, can you deposit into this account? I paid that one quicker than a demand from the city to shut off my water and we waited a bit longer.
The Spring Ride to Rhodes took place and amongst the usual messages was a mention of finished carpets to go out, and we could see our one in the picture. The next problem of getting it to Cape town was easily resolved by Chris Fisher being there, and I offered a bottle of wine for courier fee.
Admittedly I’m not really the fashionable one in the family, I like things to work and if they look ok, they are OK. My stylish wife has higher standards, but I am happy to report that she is head over heels with the finished result. Obviously, the entire room needs to be remodelled now around it, but for now I look at it with a cheeky smile. I can take my shoes off and walk barefoot on this piece of art, close my eyes and go back to a green valley in the Natal midlands. I highly recommend you do the same.