News / Africa

West Africans Push Traditional Crafts as Economic Engine

West African masks are displayed by Moses Camara at Eastern Market, in Washington D.C.. (file) (VOA/Elizabeth Monnac)     West African masks are displayed by Moses Camara at Eastern Market, in Washington D.C.. (file) (VOA/Elizabeth Monnac)
x
West African masks are displayed by Moses Camara at Eastern Market, in Washington D.C.. (file) (VOA/Elizabeth Monnac)
West African masks are displayed by Moses Camara at Eastern Market, in Washington D.C.. (file) (VOA/Elizabeth Monnac)
TEXT SIZE - +
Nancy Palus
— More than 3,000 artisans from throughout West Africa showcased their creations in wood, bronze, fabric and other mediums at the 13th International Artisan Crafts Festival in the Burkina Faso capital, Ouagadougou. The 10-day fair wrapped up Sunday.
 
One of the objectives of the biennial crafts festival is to help West Africans thrive where they live - avoiding an exodus to urban capitals or abroad in search of work.
 
Making traditional crafts a viable livelihood depends largely on stability in the region. Assemien Yapo is among the Ivoirians who came to Ouagadougou for the festival - a significantly larger group this year than was able to come in 2010, when Côte d’Ivoire was gripped by political unrest.

The Ivoirian government and artisans’ associations are working on revitalizing the sector as part of overall recovery and development efforts.
 
Yapo said Ivoirians are working toward giving artisanship its rightful place in the country's economy. He said this kind of work not only can be a livelihood for individuals, but also a veritable job creator in Côte d’Ivoire.
 
Mali, a cultural powerhouse in the region, has historically had a huge presence at the festival. Instability in Mali has gutted what was a booming tourism industry, though, and devastated families that survive on crafts.
 
Mali's interim government nonetheless covered the expenses of 140 Malian artisans to attend this year. A Malian cotton and textile producer at the Ouagadougou event, Moussa Bagayoko, said the move was a real lifeline.
 
He said one of the greatest benefits of the festival is the partnerships one is able to form with other craftspeople and with organizations.  Bagayoko said he encourages African governments to support the crafts industry so it can be a solid livelihood passed on to future generations.
 
Another Malian at the festival is from Gao, one of Mali's northern regions currently occupied by al-Qaida-linked groups. In addition to his own goods, he displayed statues, shoes, jewelry and other objects from several fellow craftsmen in Gao. While a reporter spoke with him, he received several phone calls from eager artisans back in Gao, asking how their products were selling.
 
The drop in buyers in the region, driven by the global financial crisis and instability, has artisans seeking new outlets, such as marketing and selling on the Internet. A new feature at the festival this year was “B to B” - or Business-to-Business - a formal setting for artisans to meet buyers from all over the world, promote their wares, negotiate prices, establish new networks, and in many cases lock in orders.  
 
The coordinator of the Ouagadougou event, Abdoulaye Zongo, said the “Business-to-Business” structure resulted in about $140,000 in prospective orders. He said they were able to link artisans with buyers, and also with fellow craftsmen in the region with whom they can collaborate.
 
Aïssatou Yaméogo knows the value of cross-border collaboration. She works with craftsmen in her native Niger and Burkina Faso to make sculptures, jewelry and other art objects.
 
She said “B to B” is a great idea that gives all a chance to meet buyers and do business. She said while she does not have any firm orders yet, there is a lot of interest, especially in Tuareg clothing she makes. She said it is an enterprise for both countries - Burkina and Niger.
 
Zongo said people from 33 countries on four continents participated in the festival.

You May Like

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Egyptian Court Jails 23 Pro-Morsi Supporters

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials say gunmen have killed two members of the country's security forces More

Pakistani Journalists Protest Shooting of Colleague

Hamid Mir, a host for private television channel Geo, was wounded after being shot three times Saturday, but is expected to survive More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid