News / Arts & Entertainment

Young Kenyans Use Bones to Make Art

Bones from a Soweto restaurant, July, 2014. (Lenny Ruvaga / VOA)
Bones from a Soweto restaurant, July, 2014. (Lenny Ruvaga / VOA)

A group of enterprising young people in Kibera, Nairobi's largest slum, have turned to making art from animal bones. The jewelery items range in price from $3 to $5 and are a big hit with locals and tourists alike. 

Soweto Restaurant is located in the sprawling Kibera slum.  The restaurant serves around 500 people a day and at any given time is filled with customers. Today is no exception.
 
Restaurant owner Mutua Mutiso said his customers like meat.

"My customers like chicken, beef and liver.  They also like from boiled meat and the roasted kind.  The prices are quite affordable and that keeps my customers happy," he said.
 
But some of his customers, like George Otieno, prefer the bones.  Otieno is the 25-year-old co-founder of Victorious Bones,  a youth group that began eight years ago with the purpose of turning bones into art.
 
Otieno buys discarded bones for his workshop once a month from Soweto Restaurant.

"I usually buy the waste bones for around $5 per kilogram.  This forms the raw material for the jewelery that I shall later make.  Products are made from cow, goat and camel bones.  A cow bone costs 20 shillings [23 cents] while goat and camel bones are 15 shillings [17 cents] and $1 respectively," he said.

​Back at the workshop, not far from the Soweto restaurant, he cuts and sharpens the bones using a circular blade and then smoothes them down with sand paper.  The next step is boiling the bones with hydrogen peroxide to remove oil on the surface and to make it easier to apply color.  

"I then apply candle wax to the boiled bones -- the waxed part will remain white and the other part will become black when the bones are dyed," Otieno said.  "In the final stage, I put the bones in a container filled with dye for an hour to enable them to have a long-lasting color."
 
The bones then become earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings.   Depending on the complexity of design, a piece of jewelry can take six to 20 hours to complete.
 
Otieno said his Victorious Bones group can make 500 earrings and 150 to 200 necklaces a day depending on the order. 

"This is a very competitive business.  Our output depends on an order.  We usually sell our pieces to tourists who visit us and abroad in Canada and Finland," he said.
 
Victorious Bones partnered with an organization called SEED -- which stands for Students Empowerment through Education and Development -- which brings in tourists to buy the jewelry and finds new markets for the art.
 
"Our organization sources for markets for the jewelery internationally.  By doing so we are empowering the group to produce more and employ more young people to do something constructive," said Patrick Aouki, director at SEED.
 
With no capital to buy equipment and rent a workshop, Otieno and his four friends began by pooling their meager savings.  They each contributed $1 per week and within a year they were able to buy their first machine and get a space for their workshop. 

Profits, said Otieno, were put back into the workshop to expand.
 
"The business now boasts 16 bench grinders - used to sharpen, smoothen and draw shapes on the bones - and a big workshop that accommodates 25 artists," he said.  "We also employ around 11 people from the neighborhood who earn a decent income from the jewelery."
 
Victorious Bones has also trained more than 40 young people from the slums - giving them a marketable skill and a more viable future.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the latest edition of "Beyond Category" blues singer and guitarist Corey Harris performs with his band and talks about his travels in West Africa tracing the roots of the blues.