Arise Nigeria! Arise O Compatriots…
It is October 1st, time to celebrate the 55th Independence of Nigeria, and it’s got me thinking about the word……Independence.
Could we be doing things a bit too independently of each other…. ?
What I’ll be focusing on though is how the artisan role is far from being an independent experience. It just would not thrive as such.
Artisanal handicraft is usually a combination of various skills cutting across many disciplines. It’s a multifaceted role being an artisan, and probably even more so when you’re a Green or Eco Artisan in these modern times. There’s the searching and researching for solutions to problems, the innovating and then the creating and developing aspects. It’s definitely a rewarding process. You may want to try it and see where you fit in (wink).
The Green Artisan is somewhat of a new type of artisan too, applying different skills on whatever materials are presented as per solutions. There are lessons learnt on a continuous basis. You never stop learning and that’s a good thing! Mastering the the fibres is a continuous process. Lessons on manipulation of the raw materials is necessary and product creativity and development is always present.
So the Green Artisan is and/or becomes multifaceted and multidisciplinary.
We also work best as a network of artisans connected by the different skills, ideas and experiences from different walks of life that we bring to the table. We learn, solve and create together.
Loom-Woven Water Hyacinth Bundles
Artisans make things when we’re presented with all kinds of raw materials … and in our sphere of the world that’s water hyacinth and other agro-waste.
Something useful is generated or created. Something different. Something unique.
Each item as unique as the hands that made it, as unique as the story behind it.
These are relatively uncommon handicraft raw materials in our part of the globe, so communities and business partners need to be enlightened on the possibilities of using such. Here’s where teams like Mitimeth come in. We do our home work, inform and then partner with other organizations to train communities on the solutions so far.
Our work is geared towards ensuring people (communities, consumers, policy makers) understand the impact these handicrafts can have. The artisan industry drives economic development and job creation and where we have a case of invasive aquatic weeds there is the environmental impact that needs to be addressed. Lets not forget that traditional skills are preserved when revived and/or continued in the handicraft industry, and we certainly are not lacking in this area.
Recent information shows that the global artisan/handicrafts economy is worth $32Billion per year and that 65% of that is accounted for by developing countries. So let’s look at Nigeria and the opportunities this global market represents. What if we could capture just 1.5% of the share accounted for by developing countries. This would translate to a whopping $312Million! This implies economic independence for our artisans when they have access to markets, cheap and efficient logistics, formal product design training, collaborative partnerships etc. A market share that can be realized if our local handicrafts are of high quality, functional, have designs that appeal to the global market and unique. We’ll be competing with countries in South Asia and other parts of Africa that have dominated this space for decades. It is a big enough market that can accommodate many good players.
The local Artisan industry can’t possibly achieve this alone. We’ll need the Nigerian government to provide enabling platforms through it’s ministries, agencies and councils like the National Council for Arts and Culture, Nigerian Export Promotion Council. Realizing that the social and economic impact this sector has on the rural population, employment and on preserving tradition is monumental. The Artisan Industry thrives in a community that decides to understand and then support artisanal handicrafts. At MitiMeth, we create and deliver solutions with our communities in mind.
While we wait to see what the larger organizations are coming up with from meetings like this held on Tuesday 23 September, 2015 (UNESCO, Stakeholders urge policy on Intangible Cultural Heritage in Nigeria), we’ll need to get doing too.
We’ve got diversity and plenty in our toolbox in Nigeria… we need to start working with all we have.
What are your thoughts on the dynamic elements of this aspect of Nigeria’s creative economy?