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Women, Basketry and Africa

‘A Zimbabian project for women nurturing local talent to promote ecological trade’

Background

Ingcebethu [meaning basket in the local language] is a basket weaving collaboration
between Lubabe Women’s Centre (LWC) in South Western Zimbabwe and two Danish designers, Eva Seidenfaden and Ane Lyngsgaard.

LWC is a well-established hub for its 3700 female members, of which 400 are active weavers. These weavers generate 3/4 of the centre's revenue, which is crucial for the survival of these women and their families.

LWC approached The New Basket Workshop (TNBW), an NGO from South Africa, dealing with basketry projects in southern Africa, to find designers from the West, which could help create a new production line at the centre.

TNBW established the contact to Ane Lynggaard and Eva Seidenfaden from Baskets4life in Denmark who has run numerous similar projects and collaborations in other parts of Africa.

The reasons for introducing new western basketry techniques are twofold: firstly the baskets represent the best source of income for the women relative to other crafts and secondly the aim is to contribute to the revitalization of this ancient craft.

The women associated with the centre live in mud huts and can in good times receivea salary of $1 a day.

The Project

This project will introduce techniques and baskets, which can lead to a higher daily rate.

The program contains 3 x 2 weeks of classes at the centre in Lupane for 50 selected women. These women will then be tasked to teach what they’ve learned to the other members. The centre houses 400 basket makers who will benefit from the project. The project will positively impact the living conditions of more than 2,000 people.
The long-term potential is immense.

The program includes a follow up visit to Denmark with selected weavers from the centre. The goal is to create contact to new markets and establish dialogue and exchanges with several Danish basket makers, so the inspiration goes both ways.