uganda crafts artisans
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Christmas Décor
Kids Gifts
Ornaments
Bark Cloth Crafts
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Purse
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Gifts for Him
Trays
Key Chains
Leather
Hand Bags
Musical Instruments
 


A r t i s a n s

 

cissy

Mrs Cissy Mukasa

Barkcloth Artisan- fashions barkcloth and raffia into purses, placemats, bookmarks, stockings etc stitching by hand.  Mrs Cissy Mukasa has been bringing her bark cloth products to Uganda Crafts 2000 since 1993.  Cissy learned how to make her products from her mother at the age of seven. It is not expressly a tradition that was passed down through the family and she is not sure where her mother learned the skill.  Cissy helped her mother with her orders selling what she made. Cissy had completed her primary school education reaching the final class P7 and continued to make bark cloth products until she got married at the age of eighteen.

Her husband, who sells spare car parts in the Kiseka market, forbid her to continue the work and it was only after she had children did she resume her trade.  She found that her husband wasn’t willing or unable to pay for certain things and she began to struggle to support their six children.  She began working secretly to get the much needed money to send her children to school, pay for medical bills and buy herself clothes.  Her husband found out but with time gave up his protestations because she was still fullfilling her role as a good wife and their children needed the money.  When her children were young she taught them her trade so that they could help her with orders during the school holidays.  None have the interest to pursue it as a career. 
Four of her children still live with her.  Cissy pays for the school fees, the medical bills and school requirements while her husband and her share other domestic expenses.  She’s been able to do this as a result of her bark cloth business.
            “I enjoy my work very very much” laughes Cissy during our interview “I’m lucky that I have ready market in craft shops all over town” (Cissy has limited English so we have translated from Luganda).  “In my free time I go watch singers like Afrigo band at Coline Hotel with my third born daughter.  I also like to listen to CBS radio as I work.”  Cissy works from home, starting at around 3pm working until 8pm, after she has completed her housework and digging her small farm plot.  Cissy used to work well into the night but her house has no electricity and the work began to strain on her eyes.  Since her motor accident in 2003 she prefers to stop at 8pm to avoid head swelling and pain. 
            “I like making an order when there are lots of different things to make rather than one product over and over.  I don’t like making the multiple coaster and placemat set though because I have a habit of misplacing bits and pieces”.          
Cissy saves and manages her earnings in two ways.  Firstly she saves from time to time in her bank account using this money for emergencies mostly.  “This is a little amount and occassionally”.  She is the sole signee of the account as she can’t risk holding a shared account.  She is a member of a local Women’s Association that loans her money and she pays them back in weekly installments.  She uses this loan facility when she wants to pay her last two children’s school fees.  Cissy says she has hopes and plans for the future but because the children still need her she finds that she can’t start saving for those things yet. 
Cissy would like to learn how to use a sewing machine as she feels she could make beautiful bark cloth hats.  As a start she would like to put up a shed on her land to sell firewood.  She would be able to do the handicraft at the same time.  She enjoys her craft too much to give it up.
 
faridah Faridah Recycled Paper Bead Earrings and Necklaces Artisan
Faridah began supplying necklaces and earrings that were made out of recycled magazines and glossy paper in 2006.  Faridah orginally trained as a Home economics teacher and it is at her teacher college that she learned how to cut, roll, varnish and assemble the recycled paper jewellery. She couldn’t find work and when she married and had children she found that making jewellery was a good way to earn an income.  Faridah is a young woman with a good sense of colour and style.  She takes whatever cheap off cut factory paper she can get with magazines and posters she finds.  It takes 3 days for her to do the whole process from start to finish and when the beads are dry she assembles 20 necklaces per day.

Milly

Namirembe Milly

Basket weaver and innovator.  Suubi Weaving Trainner.

Namirembe Milly is 28years of age, married with four children. Weaving is extremely important to her because it helps to support the whole family. Her husband is a builder by trade but is currently unemployed. She stays in her own house in Nansana which is a village outside Kampala. Her father passed away when she was young so Milly only obtained a Primary school education. Her mother passed away in 2005. As a result Milly has poor English but is quite good compared to her peers.

She started working with Uganda Crafts 2000 ltd in 1993 when the organization was still an NGO. However she only worked on orders during her holidays as she was still at school. Milly is one of the most skilled weavers with a keen eye for detail and able to weave small tiny baskets neatly. She works on samples for showing importers which are of the highest quality. Milly and her sisters learned how to weave from their mother who was a very talented weaver.  Milly says that “Through weaving I have been able to look after myself and my family” She assists her husband in paying the school fees. Her last born is 2 and a half years old and the rest of her children are in primary school.  Milly has other sources of income.  She manages a group that pays her to dye materials, fix weaving and hooks and transports their baskets to Kampala for sale.Milly has been one of the Suubi weaving project trainers gaining experience in courses in 2006 and 2007 where she encourages disadvantaged women to take up weaving.  She insists that the women don’t need a large capital, only 5,000 shillings and a willing heart. 
Milly weaves her raffia baskets by hand at her home in Nansana. Starting with the base she works from the center weaving in a spiral outwards. Raffia covers the coils of banana leaf stems. A needle is used to wrap and sew the raffia tightly, while curling the banana leaf stems. Her blade chops stray raffia from the rows. Each coil is sewn to the row below it with raffia. The loop to hang the basket marks the end of the weaving process. Milly loves watching local singers perform at album launches and enjoys dancing and socialising.  It is important to her to look good and to have her hair done regularly.  Her proudest personal posession is a mobile telephone

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Malinzi Erizefali & Son Moses

Malinzi Erizefali, 70,  has been making musical instruments such as thumb pianos for as long as he can remember.  His grandfather taught him, just as he teaches his sons and grandchildren.  The Basoga tribe are renowned for their fine musical instruments.  He now works with his son Moses in Iganga near Jinja in Uganda. For some instruments he looks for old metal scrap to recycle.  Instead of using springs from old mattresses, nowadays he uses springs from car seats to make the keys of the thumb piano.

they hammers metal tin cans into rattle shakers which still boast their former branding.  He also uses a nail and hammer to create the holes in some of the instruments.

musisi

Musisi David

Musisi David is a self taught wood craftsman.  His best selling product is the gavel shaped wooden bottle opener that is found in almost every local bar and pub in Uganda.  It makes a perfect souvenir for those that like a beer!  He can make 30 pieces in one day.  He makes a variety of wooden and metal crafts such as lamp stands, ash trays, candle holders and sugar bowls.Musisi David walks proudly but his black stick gives away the fact that he got polio at the age of two.  Married with four children, Musisi David supports his wife and children on his craft business.  His children are all at school where he hopes they will stay until they figure out what they want to do with life.  He is reluctant to teach his son his craft because he is worried about distracting him from his studies.

He works alone because many employees have stolen his ideas and set up their own business or made substandard products and lost for him valuable customers.

Musisi David’s workshop is in the heart of Kampala.  He uses mahogany to make his crafts, insisting that only a hard wood will work.  Mahogany is sold widely in Kampala but it comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  He enjoys his work but wishes to get his wife a skill such as candle making.  His only regret is that he no longer keeps samples of his old designs and he’s forgotten some.

Allen
began supplying necklaces and earrings that were made out of recycled magazines and glossy paper in 2004.  Allen orginally trained as a social worker and it is at her teacher college that she learned how to cut, roll, varnish and assemble the recycled paper jewellery. She couldn’t find work she found that making jewellery was a good way to earn an income.  Allen is a young woman with a good sense of colour and style.  She takes whatever cheap off cut factory paper she can get with magazines and posters she finds.  It takes 3 days for her to do the whole process from start to finish and when the beads are dry she assembles 20 necklaces per day.

buwembo

Buwembo is a father of 4 chilren. He makes huts using bark cloth and spear grassin which he creatively depicts African homesteads and stories .

He sends his children to school and buys clothing because of his craft.

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Kalongo Prophino and his newphew Paulino Lukyamuzi make bark cloth in the small village of Kanabulemu in Masaka district, Uganda.  Bark cloth is a raw material for other crafts such as paintings by Yiga Lugolobi and cushions by Cissy.  Quite simply bark cloth is cloth made out of the bark of the mutuba tree.  It has been produced in Uganda for over 600 years and has a strong cultural place in Baganda culture as it is used by the royal family, traditional healers and used at funerals.  UNESCO has named the material amongst its World’s collective heritage list. Uganda Crafts 2000 ltd was fortunate enough to have visiting researcher Lesli Robertson, an adjunct Professor of Weaving and Textiles at the University of North Texas, write up an explanation of the process:

“This unique process of changing bark into cloth begins with the removal of the outer bark of the Mutuba tree, exposing an under layer of moist, fleshy trunk.  Horizontal and vertical cuts are made the length of the tree allowing Kalongo to use an angled banana stalk to peel away the inner bark.  What falls away from the tree is a narrow section of bark . Banana leaves are cut and wrapped around the exposed trunk, keeping it moist and allowing the bark to grow back within a year.  To deepen the rust color of the bark; dried banana leaves are placed on top of it and set on fire.  Kalongo carefully brushes off the ash, washes it and then wraps it in fresh banana leaves, keeping it moist to be worked”

The next day Kalongo begins creating bark cloth by repeatedly pounding it with a grooved mallet as it was shown to him by his grandfather. “Each carefully placed hit leaves its grooved impression on the surface of the bark, with time slowly widening the bark, softening it into cloth.
“After five hours of constant laborious pounding, Kalongo finishes the cloth...he lays it fully in the sun, pulling it tight while laying rocks around the edges.”

DOROTHY NABAKIBI
Basket Weaver and trainer.
“Basing on my background of not being educated, having given birth at a young age and left neglected by the father of my child my work has impacted me greatly with hope and encouragement which I had completely lost.  I used to consider myself a failure.  No body respected me in my neighbourhood because I was poor. I did not have anything to do for a living and no one to support me. I started to weave… but out of three baskets I brought, there was only one that could pass the quality test. I never gave up because I had no alternative but to continue learning. I persisted. Today I guarantee you that none of my baskets can be rejected

“My work enabled me to earn and to sustain myself and my family. I educate my four children; one of them is now at university.  I buy food, medical bills, clothing, and have begun building a house.  Being a weaver has made me a responsible and respected person in society. All the negative views of people about me changed since now am living independently which is not easy especially if you’re a woman.
“My job made it possible for me to travel to America to demonstrate my skills. This is a life time experience and I never at any one time thought I could ever get on the plane because I thought only rich and learned people could. All my success is dedicated to Uganda Crafts 2000 and their Fair Trade orders.”


 
   
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