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Practical Baskets - The People

Mount Kasigau, the cloud mountain

From Maungu, a truck-stop village along the Mombasa highway, the 40km dirt road to Kasigau is often a bouncy, rattly car ride. The villages where the practical baskets are made, are all scattered around an impressive mountain... Kasigau. The many practical basket weavers (around 1000 weavers now) live near Kasigau in different settlements and villages.

A cloud descends most evenings on the top of the Kasigau, like a blanket hat on her head. The forest on the top captures the clouds moisture, which is the source of water of all people in the villages around the mountain. The source of life. The farmers near the mountain benefit from the rain and moisture that the mountain attracts, in comparison with the vast flat areas in between the hills and mountains that look more like a scrubby desert for most of the year. At times when the dry season lasts too long, the watersources run dry and Kasigau becomes a place of struggle.


Most basket weaver groups meet once a week to weave baskets together, and continue weaving in the meantime at home, on the bus or whilst walking to their neighbours. These group meetings are also a great opportunity to advise each other on matters in life. By hand-weaving these one-of-a-kind beautiful baskets the ladies are creating a sustainable source of income for themselves and are becoming less dependent on the fragile ecosystem.


A few stories of practical basket weavers

So many weavers with so many faces and so many stories behind the handicrafts, we can only fail to tell them all. We can only show you by these examples, that every basket has a unique and a real personal story...

"I'm 60 years old. My husband is a retired driver. I have a son who completed his forth form and six grandchildren. Before I joined my basket weavers group I was making sisal strings and selling them to Bungule weaver groups. After joining my group I was very happy, I am selling my own baskets and making some money each time and this has motivated me to work hard. Basket weaving has eased my ability to assist in paying school fees, food. By now I have bought a goat and keep poultry. I do advice other ladies who are not in the group to join one, it can change their lives like mine!" Mthembwa, Buguta

"Mercy, I want to let you know that we will never stop weaving whether covid 19 is there or not. What will we eat if we stopped weaving baskets".  Janet Mrunde, Rukanga. 

"I am new to basket weaving. I saw my neighbours meeting up and weaving, I was there at home doing nothing and I thought I should give it a try. It is almost a year and I am a proud lady today I can weave a small size basket. I have been doing the size and time survey, it is motivating me to weave more as I practice." Shally Muriuki, Jitume.

"My name is Ndinda, in my late fourties. I recently joined a basket weaving group. This decision was informed by the fact that basket weaving has positively impacted the life of the ladies involved."  Ndinda, Kisimenyi.

"My name is Eunice Mng'ambwa, I am one of the founding members of Mwagubenyi basket weavers in Makwasinyi.  I love doing extra large and bread baskets." Eunice, Makwasinyi. 


"My name is Edda. I'm 49 years old, I started weaving baskets in 2016. I am the daughter of the late Peninah Maghanga. My children are all grown. I own a small business, 2 boda boda (motorbikes) and bought a second hand pick-up. I managed to do all this through small loans. The income from baskets helps me repay the loans and also the income now generated by the businesses. Im still planning to rebuild my shop building into a bigger one and some rental rooms and one room for my son. I am determined, and work very hard, also in weaving baskets,  to make it happen. I went through a lot of hardship recently when my husband got terminally ill and passed away in 2018. 

Basket weaving has helped in many ways, I can now pay my small loans and eat well. My mum taught me how to weave baskets and now I am doing it in memory of her. I thank God for Hadithi Crafs as they do an amazing work in buying our baskets. I don’t know who could buy so many of our baskets if it were not for Hadithi.’’ Edda Maghanga, Jora


"My name is Lore, I'm the trustee of Hadithi crafts support CBO. My story also starts in Kasigau, in February 2009. It was my first time in Kenya. I got on the road to Kasigau, lucky enough to be on the back of a motorbike - the quickest and most comfortable means of transport (if you don’t mind the heat on your head and the dust in your eyes).

That day I was taken around by the manager of Wildlife Works. On the road around the mountain, he stopped off at the basket weaver house in Jora, to greet the basket weaving mama’s who were sitting there.

There they were, the late Penina Maghanga, Patience, violet, and their chairlady Hilder. They were all resident basket weavers in Jora and never would we have guessed that Hilder one day would be the chairlady of Hadithi Crafts Support CBO and together we would grow to be selling thousands of baskets per year...

That day I got introduced to the warm hearted weavers in Kasigau, and to amazing craftmanship of basket weaving. It was love at first sight with their sisal baskets, with their intricate designs and their superb quality. 

After meeting the weavers, we quietly continued our way around mount Kasigau, fully appreciating the amazing scenery. As a first-time tourist in Kenya, I was blown away by this whole experience, seeing the green bush and the red soil slide by, the villages, the cattle, and as we turned away from the mountain into Rukinga wildlife sanctuary: the protected forest with giraffes and zebras... from the back of a motorbike.

That day changed my life. I came back to Kenya, married the manager of Wildlife Works, and got immersed in the basket world as the trustee of hadithi crafts support CBO... Although my wonderful husband then tragically passed away in 2017 what we need to remember is the story of love. He was so supportive of Hadithi and the basket weavers in Tsavo. I'm now raising our two daughters in Kenya and I know he is so proud of them." Lore Dodson, trustee Hadithi crafts.

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