Mangena family  - cattle farmers and Kaross embroiderers

What do cattle and goats have to do with Kaross? Traditionally not much - our designs do not feature many domestic animals and our studio is based on a citrus farm.

However, one livestock farmer has managed to become an integral part of the Kaross community in his quiet way.

Albert Mangena provides a vital transport service to the Kaross community

Albert Mangena lives in Nyagelane village, farms mainly with cattle, and has a few bakkies (small pick up trucks) that have been transporting embroiderers from Nyagelane to Kaross and back for many years. His red bakkie especially was a feature at Kaross on many a Monday and Wednesday, though it has sadly now been retired.

In a rural area, where distances are significant and transport is expensive, this is a vital service to our community. Albert’s family are also very actively involved in embroidering for Kaross.

Albert Mangena in front of his bakkie

Livestock farming is part of their Sotho tradition

Albert is from the Sotho people, who primarily reside in the kingdom of Lesotho (a land-locked country which is bordered on all sides by South Africa) and in the Free State province of South Africa.

The Sotho are historically pastoralists, and Albert has very ably followed in this tradition, as have his children who all farm with cattle.

Albert says he lives and works in peace - his children are all good people and they look after themselves.

Nyagelane village is struggling with its water supply though, especially during the current drought, and he dreams about drilling for water one day, when the finances fall in place.

Albert's family are also actively involved in embroidering for Kaross

Albert had 3 wives but one of his wives, Selina, has passed away, leaving a daughter by the name of Sophi.  

Albert Mangena's wife Bettie

His first wife is Bettie Ramaphalo (pictured above). Besides being a very active Kaross embroiderer, the mother of six children (Fina, Jane, Sunnyboy, Peter, Floyd and Karabo) and a good home maker, she is also a dab hand at the activities that farming demands, such as slaughtering cows and processing meat. Daughter Fina also embroiders for Kaross.

Albert’s other wife is Esta, also known as Modjadji (pictured below). Their daughter Norma Ellen lives in Johannesburg.

Albert's wife Esta also embroiders for Kaross

All in all the Mangenas are a contented family, and we are happy to know them and thankful for their part in the daily life and welfare of the Kaross community.

For more colourful photos of our visit, or to comment on this post, click here.