A Glimpse into the Art of Kenyan Basket Weaving
Kenyan baskets are a testament to the enduring beauty, exceptional quality, and timeless artistry of traditional basket weaving. Crafted with meticulous skill and precision, these baskets showcase a rich cultural heritage that has been passed down through generations. The use of high-quality materials and intricate weaving techniques ensures the longevity of these masterpieces. The vibrant colors and intricate patterns tell stories of the land, culture, and the artisan's unique perspective.
While the art of basket weaving is typically passed down through generations in Kenya, there are women who were excluded from this tradition and are eager to learn this artistry.
In July 2022 (Kenya’s winter), our founders Rim and Felicia had the pleasure to assist a Kusuka skills training, which took place in Gachie, in the North-Eastern suburbs of Nairobi. The training focused on teaching women from Gachie the technical skills of basket weaving. In total 14 women from the age of 29 to 81 assisted the training - all very eager to create their first "Kiondo".
The time-consuming process of weaving a basket
We once again realized the time and practice it takes to create a single basket! While for us, it would take at least two weeks to finish a medium-sized basket, for experienced artisans, it takes 3-4 full days. This underscores the value of handmade products, crafted loop by loop by a human being with focus, motivation, and love to bring out the most beautiful product.
Jane N., one of the trainers says: "Especially international customers are unaware of the time-intensive nature of basket production and the challenges posed by infrastructure issues."
An avenue for women's economic empowerment
For many women, this day has not only provided a valuable learning opportunity to enhance their basket skills but has also brought a positive change to their daily routines. While some engage in casual jobs like washing, cleaning, or selling soap—referred to as 'Kibaruas'—they view basket weaving and participating in this training as avenues to secure additional income and strive for a better life. Younger participants see basket weaving as a potential business and an attractive alternative for earning a living, while older 'mamas' view it as a fulfilling occupation. Despite their keen interest in weaving full-time, participants acknowledge the challenges, particularly the scarcity of materials and difficulties in selling the baskets.
At the end of the training, all the participants took a picture with their crafts and received a certificate of completion. It appeared that they thoroughly enjoyed the training and the time spent together before heading back home to attend to their children and families.
This training was financed by proceeds from our winter collection 2021 and organized together with Jane N. The joy and gratitude were greatly expressed by the women and truly touched our hearts.
Please contact us if you would like to receive more information about how we organize and conduct skills trainings at firstname.lastname@example.org.