Irons; Tools; Le-ngwaelo



Irons; Tools; Le-ngwaelo




Physical Description: Set of tools used in leather work. One wooden dowl section with metal pins, bound together with a length of grass rope.
Contextual Description: 02:07:02 He says he remembers this kit, like he said I just told you about making skin [methods?], now this is where you kept the awls and everything, it was the leathersmith’s kit, and I asked for the name and he said ‘I don’t remember’. I asked politely if I can remind he and he said ‘go ahead give me a reminder’[SL tells TN in Tswana]
SL: he remembers it. He even remembers when the elders would say ‘go and get me my morutsê you know what to go and get.
RHH: Is this something that he’s done himself? Or if not that he’s seen?
SL: he witnessed it from like the elders – his grandfather – but he has never done it.
Now, the word morutsê was later used to describe, or in description of a cotton reel, when our people started now acquiring the manual sewing machine, the Singer, that was the best one in this country. The cotton reel was given that name, which we used for this [points to image], that was where you get your cotton/sewing thread. Transcription by KL of MAC_BB_20190817_RPM3 SL Interview with Tshupo Ntono, Village Elder, Language: Setswana with English translations by SL, 2019
Contextual Description: SL 39:16
this is a leathersmiths kit and these are for... scraping the leather to soften it - Le-ngwaelo [literally translated the scratcher - TS]

SL 40:31
this is so that you can hold and scrape [the leather]

SL 40:41
...later on [...] you get a lid of some tin can and then just punch holes within it and you get that rough surface and that's what people are using of late.

The above notes are from a transcription by Kathleen Lawther of a discussion between Gase Kediseng, JoAnn McGregor, Nicola Stylianou, Scobie Lekhuthile and Winani Thebele which took place at the Khama III Memorial Museum on the 5th of August 2019. To listen to the full recording please follow the link below.


Making African Connections


Pre 1899




Whole: 215 mm x 45 mm




Collected by Reverend William Charles Willoughby, a Christian missionary, in what was then the Bechuanaland Protectorate (1885-1966). It is now the Republic of Botswana, having gained independence from Britain in 1966.
From 1889-92 Willoughby was pastor at Union Street Church, Brighton (now The Font pub). From 1893 to 1898 he worked for the London Missionary Society in Bechuanaland. He assembled this collection of objects during this period. This was a period of social and technological changes and these objects represent traditional lifestyles and skills, rather than the contemporary lives of the people Willoughby met.

Willoughby's collection was loaned to Brighton Museum in 1899 when he returned to the UK. The loan was converted into a donation in 1936, and accessioned as acquisition R4007.

Some objects were re-numbered with the WA (World Art) numbering system in the 2000s. These numbers have been reverted to the original R4007/... numbers where possible for consistency in 2019.
William Charles Willoughby
Botswana, Southern Africa, Africa


Botswana, Southern Africa, Africa
Cultural Group: Tswana


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