Local Nyae Nyae jewellery finds ready market in Europe
What started out as a micro-project 30 years ago has evolved into a viable way of generating income for the Bushmen community at Nyae Nyae in the Otjozondjupa region.
Lara Diez of the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation said; “It isn’t only about generating cash but spreading their reputation and the beauty of their pieces further afield, creating new markets as more tourists come in contact with these unique ostrich shell pieces.”
Generating their own income helps to empower the Nyae Nyae community so that they can take care of themselves and not depend on handouts.
The artisanal craft makers of the Nyae Nyae Conservancy produce truly traditional jewellery using ostrich egg shell. The pieces they design and put together are of such a good quality that they are now exported to Europe where there is a thriving market for indigenous Namibian arts and crafts.
This week the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation reported that in 2016, the predominantly female jewellery makers sold more pieces than ever before, generating a steady stream of vital income for the community.
From the cashflow generated by the Nyae Nyae craft makers, they are now able to buy essential products and good that would otherwise be out of reach for them and their communities. “This proves that small-scale projects in communities can and do have a real impact and positively contribute to a community” stated Diez.
The craft project has been running for 30 years. The secret to its success is that it relies on traditional craft skills, while updating designs and adding a modern twist. These objects that have been made in the same manner for generations and worn by the communities for centuries are now embraced by Namibians from all walks of life. The crafts’ local popularity is furhter enhanced by visiting tourists who often buy the ornaments as gifts to take back home. This prompted the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation to test the European market by exporting directly to agents in Europe. The success of this move is proven by the sales data for 2016.
“With the full support and backing of NGOs such as the Nyae Nyae Development Foundation of Namibia and the Omba Arts Trust, these crafts people are able to go from strength to strength. The NGOs provide the vital link for the community to the buyers, regionally, nationally and especially internationally” Diez explained.
The craft community is hoping to increase sales further this year to achieve N$500,000 in sales in 2017. This will ensure the viability and longevity of the programme as well as keep the craft makers motivated to continue with their work.