Ngwenya Glass Factory, Kingdom of Eswatini | Sense Africa

Culture

Ngwenya Glass26th February '20  |  - 1 Comment

See glass workers from above

The history of Ngwenya Glass

In 1979 a glassblowing factory called Swazi Glass Craft was created as part of a Swedish Aid Project. Machinery and equipment was imported and a number of Swazis were trained in the age old art of glass blowing. Two of the Swazis, including Mr Sibusiso Mhlanga, were sent to Sweden to be professionally trained  for 2 years.

In 1985 the factory ceased production and the disappearance of glass animals was noted by collectors. The Prettejohn family arrived in Swaziland in 1987 to investigate and found themselves the new owners of the only glass factory, at the time, in Africa. They asked around and found four of the original employees, including the master glass blower, Mr Sibusiso Mhlanga. Today Ngwenya Glass employs over 70 workers and is a fascinating place to visit, well known as Eswatini’s “hottest” attraction!

Ngwenya Glass complex

Why visit Ngwenya Glass Factory?

Located near the Ngwenya border post on the eastern border with South Africa is Ngwenya Glass. The factory lets visitors view the production from above. There are metal walkways and balconies over the heads of glass blowers, the very hot ovens and also the fine tuning and packing area. On weekdays you can watch animals and glassware being sculpted before your eyes. Afterwards you can visit the adjoining showroom which has an impressive array of artefacts. When you buy something, which you will, they can wrap them really well in old newspapers (more recycling)  as well as bubble wrap and a solid box. I normally put these boxes in my hold luggage and all the time I have been buying these, never has one broke, they are that well protected.

There are also a host of other arts and crafts shops here for you to browse, all of which are local Emaswati run with products made in the Kingdom.

Caring for the environment & communities

It is also environmentally friendly; the products are all made from hundred percent recycled glass. Locals can collect glass, mainly in the form of soft drinks bottles, which they sell by the kilo to the factory. The factory uses waste newspaper as packaging and reuse grey water within the factory. Purified old engine oil and oil from KFC is used to fuel their furnaces and solar panels on the factory roof provide a fair bit of its electricity.

Ngwenya Glass has an indigenous tree planting program. They also organise environmental clean-up days and encourage schools to pick up litter in exchange for donations of building materials and sports kit. They believe that by educating our children about environmental issues, we have a greater chance of saving the planet. Ngwenya Glass is a positive enterprise, which is why we like it so much.

And finally, they have launched the Ngwenya Glass Rhino and Elephant Fund which supports the survival of these rare animals. Rhinos and elephants have been saved from the brink of extinction twice in Eswatini. These animals remain in the Kingdom, to continue to inspire the crafters to produce their wonderful pieces of art. A percentage of Ngwenya Glass’ sales worldwide are donated to this Fund.

glass rhino from Ngwenya

Click here to learn more about Ngwenya Glass, to take a factory tour and to view their original products. If you have time then the Ngwenya mine is worth a visit as well, this is only 5 mins away.

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Responses

  1. BLOG: Ngwenya Glass by Sense Africa | The Kingdom of Eswatini (Swaziland) says:

    April 9th, 2020 at 10:23 am (#)

    […] Bowen, Director and Founder of Sense Africa, a UK Tour Company that specialises in Eswatini, has shared this blog post all about Ngwenya […]

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