The Basotho Blanket Storytelling

By Anlé Britz and Steven Sack

As the sun set to bring the day of the 10th of June to a close, we settled into our event shoes to present the very first Basotho Blanket storytelling. The Bijou Press pulled out all her strings to host Steven Sack and our guests for an evening to remember. Originally, we thought that we would be catering for only 14 guests, but by the time that we counted all the seats, we had 30 seats to fill and 30 mouths to feed. No pressure. What a stunning evening it turned out to be and we will for the future not settle for less. Steven kicked off the evening with an amazing well-rehearsed and curated story that kept our guests hanging on his lips for a whole hour.

He unravelled this layered story where history of the Basotho blanket. It emerges out of intersecting human spaces. The missionaries, the traders, merchants, manufacturers and designers of the blankets – and the consumers. All share a joint responsibility in the creation of objects of material culture which have both symbolic significance and are objects of daily use. However, there is a third almost invisible element: the earlier decorative and craft traditions of pre-colonial Sotho culture.

Blankets have a secret language, associated with aspects of the symbolic, and spiritual and cultural values. European traders would have had insight into aspects of this secret language.

After the storytelling, our guests were served with a feast of winter inspired dishes and a glass of wine. We literally had to close the door behind our guests at they did not want the evening to come to an end – neither did we. So, we arranged one shortly after – stay tuned, this is only the beginning!