The Crafthood Programme
Under the Crafthood Programme, Arts for Africa works with several basketry groups in the vicinity of Maun and along the Okavango pan-handle in Northern Botswana. Basketry continues to play a central role in sustaining households in a region where drought, disease and isolation threatens these communities more than ever before.
The Crafthood programme was launched by Travel for Impact with seed funding from Southern African Regional Environmental Program (SAREP) and is now jointly coordinated with Arts for Africa in a united effort to create a centralized marketing and sales platform for basket weavers along the fringes of the Okavango Delta. The aim is to support the weavers (and their families) in establishing independent, sustainable livelihoods. This is being done through workshops, revamping of craft centres and trade aid. Through the Crafthood programme, we have established close ties with 5 weaver groups and hundreds of affiliated crafters in an effort to stimulate responsible trade of their products. Baskets are also bought occasionally from weavers in other villages, such as Nxamasere.
The Shakawe craft centre was initiated in April 2013, with a mandate for centralizing & displaying the craft and culture of those living in and around the village. The centre also serves as a selling point for those talented women who live in remote areas.
This project impacts hundreds of talented weavers and the families they support. Onameditse (pictured) lives on the outskirts of Shakawe. She is one of many talented women who benefits from the sale of baskets. She also tends the shop.
Together with a group of 500 women, Katenya is proud of the first class baskets they make. This skill they have learned from their ancestors.
The Ngamiland Basket Weaver Trust strives to make the basket weavers more (financially) independent. Etsha 6 is just one of the isolated villages in the area that is supported by this initiative.
Ngwao Boswa or ‘Culture is Heritage’, was founded by 10 woman living in Gumare Village in the Ngamiland District. Mosipidi is a proud member of Ngwao Boswa, which has grown to include over 65 registered members.
Not only does the centre provide a platform for basket weaving and crafts but it also facilitates a necessary meeting place for these woman to gather, as they navigate the celebrations and hardships of rural life, together.
Amongst the 43 registered members, Doris (pictured) and Ranolang realise the potential of craft to support their household income and uplift the livelihoods of the entire community.
Although this group was founded in 1995, the recent input into the Shorobe baskets co-operative has generated fresh inspiration for the predominantly female heads of households that it supports.
Bina, Moya, Numba, Mathive and Kapunda make up part of the Boseja weavers group in Maun. They are very dedicated, passing the skill on to others in their community.
The Boseja woman are highly skilled in weaving and have been making baskets for many years. For the time being, this talented group is informal and operates without a craft centre.
Travel for Impact
Travel for Impact’s understanding of life in the rural communities has enabled Arts for Africa to work alongside hundreds of crafters; it has also allowed us to move forward on a basis of trust and a sense of common purpose. We now know the traditional stories behind each basket design, the name of each weaver and the village she lives in. This adds so much more meaning to the baskets we sell. Travel for Impact is more than a partner. We have come to consider them as an extension of our team. For more information, please visit the Travel for impact website.
The Tonga Programme
In northern Zimbabwe, Arts for Africa reaches out to isolated rural commities in Binga and Hwange through the Tonga Programme. Binga is one of the most critical districts in the Matabeleland North Province, with food poverty levels up to 48% in certain regions. The Tonga basket weavers are amongst the poorest communities in Binga.
The Tonga Programme reaches out to numerous small homesteads hidden deep in the bush in the districts of Binga and Hwange. Our work here is challenging because the tracks that lead to these isolated communities deteriorate considerably during the wet season. The Tonga weavers we work with have not (yet) established cooperatives and as most weavers lack the means to travel to towns such as Hwange and Victoria Falls to sell their baskets, they depend heavily on the programme for income. Thus far, we have been able to reach out to the villages of Chibhala, Mdingura, Depota, Manjolo, Tinde, Chilelema, Nsenga and Mabale.
Happie coordinates the Tonga Programme in Zimbabwe. With unique insight knowledge of the whereabouts of talented weavers and the challenges they face, Happie has been instrumental in the success of the programme. Her sheer determination to help the Tonga people and showcase their exquisite basketry has enabled us to reach out to many impoverished and isolated communities across the region.