MIFUKO IN KENYA
Mifuko Kiondos are handwoven by women´s groups in small rural villages in Machakos county, Kenya. Not so far from Nairobi, one of the biggest cities in all of Africa, here the pace of life is set by seasons and forces of nature. The villages lie between beautiful hills where maize, beans and sugarcane are cultivated. During the rainy season it´s green and flowery everywhere, with sounds of birds filling the air. When the rains end and dry season arrives, the roads turn dusty, hills get drier and farming becomes less of work. There’s more time for Kiondo making.
When and Where Do the Basket Makers Work?
Most of our artisans in rural Kenya primarily earn their living as farmers. In Machakos villages, Kiondo baskets are woven year round. The best time to concentrate on artisan work is during the dry season. The artisans mostly weave baskets at home and regularly meet in shared working and meeting spaces to discuss current affairs and to work together. Sometimes, when it´s very hot and dry, they prefer to work outside where big trees offer shelter from the sun.
Little Wooden Birds Hatching
Mifuko´s cute owls, bullfinches, firefinches and other little birds are handcrafted with a great skill and artistry in a small workshop in the outskirts of Nairobi. All the hustle and bustle of the city feels worlds away when we are watching Cecilia, Nicodemus, Benjamin and David carefully carve the birds out of fallen branches and twigs of jacaranda trees, and then sanding and painting them, giving each bird a personality and a character of its own.
Mombasa, on the shore of the Indian Ocean, is a center of Swahili culture and a city with a history of a thousand years. The air in Mombasa is hot and humid, and the warm wind smells of salt. Here, north of the city centre, lies Bombolulu Workshop and Cultural Centre. This is where Mifuko´s bags are manufactured. Raphael, Jonathan and Mustafa sow them of sturdy cotton, leather, recycled men´s shirts and inner car tyres. The shirts are bought at a vibrant and busy local market. Here the history of trade is long.