The Siyazama Project was founded in 1999 and has since been led by Dr Kate Wells, professor at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) as part of ‘Design Education for Sustainable Development’. It was initiated to deal with the urgent need to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic in rural KwaZulu-Natal and was taken on in order to inform and educate a small group of rural traditional beaded doll makers on the concerns and taboos surrounding the AIDS condition. The overall aim of the research is to better understand the effect and effectiveness of beadwork craft as a visual metaphoric mode of expression, and seeks to promote the role of design as a means to spread information about HIV/AIDS.
Today the Siyazama Project functions as a bead craft collective. The most important beaded doll makers in the project are:
Lobolile Ximba, Bonangani Ximba, Fokosile Ngema, Sbongile Ximba, Celani Noyjeza, Princess Ngonephi Ngcobo, Tholiwe Sitole, Kishwepi Sitole, Alexia Mashazi, Beauty Ndlovu and Thokozani Sibisi. They are often joined by their daughters, sisters and peers from their own communities in Muden, Msinga, Inanda, Inchanga, Nuyaswa, Hillcrest and Ndwedwe – all rural areas in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.