Namibia: Traditional Craft-Making Throws Financial Lifeline to the San Community

Traditional craft making is proving to an essential financial lifeline for San communities as the women generated nearly N$50,000 from craft sales in October alone and on average around N$300,000 a year, the Nyae Nyae Conservancy announced.

Traditional arts and crafts are favourite as souvenirs with tourists when they visit the country, however, during the lockdown there have been very few tourists and no international guests.

While this sector has suffered along with all sectors linked to tourism, Nyae Nyae Development Foundation and Nyae Nyae Conservancy are 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.

The Conservancy said Omba Arts Trust is a major local buyer of Nyae Nyae craft, along with two German and one Dutch buyer of which even during lockdown sales continued, albeit as a slower pace.

Nyae Nyae 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, which it eventually will.

The handicrafts that the women make consists 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 aren't lost over time and empowers the women in the community as they can generate their own income.

These handmade crafts can be bought at Namibia Craft Centre on Tal Street Windhoek, where Nyae Nyae crafts are available at the Omba Arts Trust stand.

Some of the local craft makers from the Nyae Nyae Conservancy.

More From: Namibia Economist

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