Importance of beads in African heritage

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Beads have a long history in Africa and are worn for various reasons and purposes.

Kholosa Lubisi caught up with the renowned praise singer and poet, Jessica Mpangeni to learn more about the importance of beads in the African heritage:

Broster Beadwork Collection

The Broster Beadwork Collection comprises many objects that are significant in furthering the knowledge and understanding of the cultural heritage of the Southern Nguni peoples in the Eastern Cape.

The Collection depicts an important part of South African history and Heritage Objects that form part of the National Estate. Early isiXhosa-speaking people believed that glass beads washed up on shore, came from the ancestors. Later, and together with mother-of-pearl buttons, these materials were also seen as currency, and were very important for personal adornment, often at the expense of any wealth they might have had. Acquisition of beads and buttons for adornment purposes was another way of acknowledging the ancestors ‘from whom
abundance flowed’.

Beads and buttons were second only to the currency value of iron and cattle in the early 1800s, when a woman’s
dress could cost twelve to twenty oxen. – info from South African Heritage Resources Agency