The stories behind the Faces

Have you met the beautiful ladies depicted on the Jolè Design classic range of items? Each women holds a story….

Jolène Leeuwner-Maritz  was born into a beautiful country plagued by controversy. South Africa. But by the time she understood where she was, all she could see was a beautiful country filled with elements of variety.

At that stage she did not know that these elements came from all over the world, “I just understood that we were different…colourful…unique.”

So now, she shares the stories of some of our beautiful country’s characters, leaders, mothers, wives, authors, models… and as time pass she will share more stories with you about how South Africa is part of the world, it’s globalization and very much a cosmopolitan country that every human on earth can relate to.

Let me introduce you to some of my most treasured fictional friends




the intra-African trader

Halima is originally from the Port city of Lagos, Nigeria. Her father was paramount in creating forums for intra-African trade and her family has travelled all over the African continent. It was inevitable that Halirna would fall in love with the noise of human commerce and specifially its biggest economies South Afria and Nigeria.

Halima became a key member of the Nigeria-South Africa chamber of commerce. Halirna now resides in South Africa. She promotes bilateral trade relations between her birth place Nigeria and South Africa and is building education systems to deliver skilled people to implement trade agreements.




the well heeled delight

Aadilah is from Halfeti with qualities as incredibly rare as the town’s black roses. It is said that her family tree includes Suleiman the magnificent, ruler of the Ottoman Empire at its height of power during the 16th and 17th centuries. She is an astute businesswoman who immigrated to South Africa when she foresaw Africa fulfilling its economic potential when others focussed on developed countries. She started out by brokering a lucrative coal export deal between a South African cornpany and her Turkish family.

She now caters for the African Elite’s every whim. She will for instance exchange pieces of Turkish delight wrapped in silk handkerchiefs as presents. She will inform the recipient that her family knew Mr. Bekir Effiendi personally and that the presents originate from the Heci Bekir Company which has been making Turkish delight in Istanbul for over 200 years. She does not differentiate between black diamonds or any other colour whatsoever.



the German Ballerina

Gitta was born with pointed toes and wore her first tutu at the same age that she started walking for the first time. She grew up in Stuttgart Germany and was practically raised at the Ballet school of the Wurtemberg state Opera.

Her mother was the protégé of South African born ballet dancer and choreographer John Cranko. While studying with John, he taught her mother everything about South Africa and what a beautiful country it was. Her morn fell in love with the fairy-tale and so did she in time.

When she turned 21 her mother asked her to open and manage a ballet school in Johannesburg, South Africa in honour of John. She moved to South Africa and did so. She is also in the process of building the first ballet-specific theatre in South Africa.


the Freestate Intellectual

Sannie-Marie was born in a small town in the Free State called Vredefort. She lived on a farm that bordered the Vredefort dome. As a child she used to play on the “rocks” and could entertain herself for hours.

As she grew older she became more fascinated with and then learned that the Vredefort dome was a result of a meteorite that hit the earth near Vredefort and made a crater that was about 300km wide. This was the biggst meteorite impact that geologists have yet found on earth. She was so captivated by the dome that she entered every and all competitions relating to the study of meteoritics. Her persistence paid off and she won a scholarship through the University of New Mexico where she studied Meteoritics, Astronomy, Astrophysics and Geology.

On completion of her studies she established a travel and research institution in South Africa through which she facilitates international scientist’s visits and studies of South African meteorites and other scientific wonders.



the Soviet Trouper

Nadja was born in the small town of Serov, Russia. Since early childhood she loved entertaining people and at age 14 she joined the Moscow circus as a contortionist. She longed to see the world. In 1991 Boswell Wilkie Circus brought the Moscow Circus from Russia to South Africa.

Nadja was mesmerized by the sight of animals like the big 5 in its natural habitat When her circus career ended, Nadja immigrated to South Africa and today owns a rehabilitation centre for wild animals.


the Spanish Eagle

Ramira was born in Monfrague, near the beautiful city of Plasencia, known as the perfect place to practice bird watching in Spain. From an early age Ramira was mesmerized by the beauty of birds, and her mother used to take her bird watching every weekend. When she was 10 years old her parents were on the Spantax flight 335 from Madrid to New York and sadly did not survive the accident.

After the horrible accident Ramira committed to a career in ornithology. When doing research on choosing an institution to undertake her studies she discovered that South Africa has approximately 300 bird species, comprising 10% of the worlds total bird species. Without further consideration she enrolled at the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology in Cape Town.

After completion of her studies she decided to settle in Eshowe, Kwazulu Natal near the Zululand Birding Route where she now has a Birding field guide agency.



the acclaimed athlete

Rafaela was born in Santana de Parnaiba, Brazil. Her mother was from Australia and a provincial triathlete in her prime years. At an early age Rafaela’s parents realized that she was like a dolphin in water, she also showed determination and commitment with all physical sports.

Due to the pollution of the Tretê River she did not have many opportunities to partake in any triathlon competitions. Her father was a teacher and as part of Brazil’s commitment to the IBSA assist in the promotion of higher and professional education.

They settled on the banks of the Vaal River in Gauteng then Transvaal). Rafaela started to compete in many triathlon competitions and was soon recognized as one of the top performing athletes in South Africa.


the aspirant businesswoman

Lesego’s grandfather was born in Botswana but due to the industrialization of South Africa and the introduction of the migrant-labour system they were recruited to work in the mines in South Africa, and later lived in Bophutatswana. That is also where she was born and raised. After the dissolution of Bophutatswana in 1991 she found roots in Mafikeng.

Lesego copy enrolled in the North West University’s Mafikeng Campus as a law student. She found Mining law fascinating and soon realized that she could apply for prospecting rights to mine minerals on the land that she grew up on. She identified a piece of land where she had never seen her father or grandfather work. She applied for the rights on that land and was successful in acquiring same. Her endeavours were successful and she has now entered into many lucrative platinum mining agreements with international automotive companies.



the Greek phenomenon

In 1989 the Greek economy had taken a turn for the worst. The post war boom that lasted through the 1960’s and 1970’s had come to an end. Alena’s father was an engineer in Athens when she was born. At a very young age Alena had been diagnosed with an incurable heart disease. She was treated by the best doctors in Greece but they had no hope for her.

Her father always knew that South Africa was well known for their pioneering work done at the Groote Schuur Hospital by Dr Chris Barnard and when he was offered a position as Head civil engineer for the construction of the Hex RiverTunnels in the Western Cape he accepted the position immediately.

Alena was treated at the Groote Schuur hospital and received a heart transplant a few years later. She is now a lecturer in Cardiology at UCT

Gugu and Mbali

the twin Zulu “warriors”

Gugu and Mbali are non-identical twins born in Babanango, a settlement near one of King Dingane’s great royal kraals, Umgungundlovu. They attended a small rural school, but both were tall and athletic children. The people of their village soon realized that they would be exceptional athletes.

The Australian Diamonds netball team had decided to host netball workshops in the rural areas of Kwazulu Natal and during these workshops immediately identified their talent. They were recruited instantly and at the age of 15 years both of them had debuts in their first international netball test series for Australia. Their careers have gone from strength to strength and they both played in the ANZ netball Championships.

After obtaining international fame and generous financial support they have decided to establish their own netball academy in Empangeni, South Africa for the development of netball in rural schools