Traditional crafts provide an essential income

22 October 2020 | Tourism



The selling of traditional crafts by conservancies to tourists is an essential income for community members.

However, this sector has suffered along with all sectors linked to tourism during the lockdown period with virtually no tourists visiting conservancies.

One of the key sources of cash for many San women in the Nyae Nyae Conservancy is traditional craft making, which has also suffered due the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation, traditional arts and crafts are favourites as souvenirs with tourists.

The foundation and the Nyae Nyae Conservancy are therefore working together to try and maintain this sector in order to support the craft makers and the many dependents that rely on the income that craft-making generates.

Omba Arts Trust is a major local buyer of Nyae Nyae crafts, along with two German and one Dutch buyer.

Even during lockdown sales have continued, albeit as a slower pace.

Preserving culture

The foundation has also committed to building up stock during this slow patch, so that orders can be better met in future when tourism takes off again.

“The handicrafts that the women make consist of designs that have been passed on for generations in the San communities.

“There are bracelets, earrings, necklaces and rings all made from locally sourced materials such as wood and ostrich shells.”

Making these arts and crafts ensures that the traditional techniques are not lost over time and empowers the women in the community as they can generate their own income, according to the foundation.

The craft-making women generated nearly N$50 000 from craft sales in October alone and on average around N$300 000 a year is made from the crafts, which is a significant injection of resources in the community.

The foundation says this is an essential income that pays for food, supplies and even school uniforms.

“It is easy to contribute and especially in these challenging times. So, next time you don't know what to get someone for their birthday or for this upcoming holiday season; think local and visit the Namibia Craft Centre on Tal Street, where Nyae Nyae crafts are available at the Omba Arts Trust stand. Give something beautiful, locally made and with generations of stories behind each handmade item.”

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