Friday, April 6, 2012

The color of crafts

John and I took advantage of his day off yesterday to venture to a local craft market in the neighborhood of Nsambya (which somehow always sounds like "Insomnia" to me). It is a feast for the eyes, especially for an amateur photographer: a few acres full of locally-made handicrafts at affordable prices, often sold directly by the craftsperson. I was drawn to the banana-leaf baskets and jewelry (I miss you, Kelli!), and John probably found every woodworking and painting alcove there.

If you come to visit here, I plan on taking you to this very spot. And if I send a gift, it was likely gotten in one of these little stalls, or the tents and tarps erected in the middle of the square on Fridays. Part of the enjoyment of John and I being there together was pointing out different objects we thought family members would love. Our house is looking a little more African this morning from the lovely handicrafts we picked up.

Part of the experience was the fun of dialoguing with the shopkeepers and craftspeople. We put on our Luganda training wheels and took 'em out for a spin--and enjoyed the laughter and rhythm of language in return. It wasn't uncommon for some of them to openly plead some version of, "Support us! Spend some money here!" 

I stashed my camera in my bag, and occasionally asked to take someone's picture. In my limited exposure (ha!), the average Ugandan has few photos of themselves. Oliver, our housekeeper, says she has one from her childhood. So my delight lay in the metamophosis from their initial skepticism and shyness, to then their exclamations once I turned the digital screen their direction to see their own photograph.

Seeing the craftswomen in action brought appreciation to the stacks and puddles of vibrant, intricately pieced baskets and jewelry. Some of the beading was nothing short of remarkable.

This photo probably takes the cake for my favorite of the day. With an average lifespan of 52, you don't see many older Ugandans. But this woman had a beauty all her own.

But I'll let the photographs do the rest of the talking here. All in all, it was a rewarding, fascinating afternoon.


mhutsell said...

I really love how you can enjoy the richness of shopping as the creator of the objects are so much a part of the purchase. With our shopping here everything (we can afford) is so cheap and so mass produced and ultimately less meaningful. How lovely that your home is filling with meaningful items! said...

Beautiful crafts and beautiful people. We loved our visits to Uganda. Hope we can return someday!