Senior curator of arts at the Botswana National Museum, Monica Selelo, told Arts & Culture that after the last Presidential Arts Exhibitions held in July, they had realised that amongst many art disciplines, the textile art of weaving, otherwise known as tapestry, has always been poorly represented.
"There aren't many people who do this type of weaving, let alone try to earn a living out of it," she said.
"That's why the government finds it vital to meet us halfway so that we can host a skills-sharing workshop like this one, where veteran weavers can teach those who are still new to the industry, the basics and innovative ways of earning a better living out of it."
Over 20 women from different weaving factories, such as Oodi Weavers, Tswana Weavers and Baikagi Weavers of Lobatse, and seven youths, attended the workshop.
She explained the need to nurture young talent, even among inmates because after serving their jail terms they could turn weaving into a livelihood. Mmannana Phale, an elderly citizen and manager of Baikagi Weavers in Lobatse, explained that they want to find a new approach to tapestry design by mixing it with embroidery.
She said today's
youth are not keen to engage in activities that involve working with their hands, preferring computer technology and other modern tools yet it still takes no formal education to become a skilled craftperson.
Phale started weaving around 1987, learning the ropes of the trade from her mother before securing employment at Tiro Ya Diatla Weavers.
"By then we were still students. When we left the company that's when Baikagi Weavers was established and it has been our workplace ever since," she said.
"We would buy karakul wool from local farmers and they would scour it and spin it themselves, ready for weaving," she said as she explained how the businesses are inter-dependent.
They have approached the Botswana Training Authority (BOTA) for accreditation so that they can issue certificates to students who enroll and pass craftwork at their institution.
Explaining to Arts & Culture how the traditionally woven warps and wefts over cotton and wool mixed with traditional colours and patterns, represent the cultural heritage of Botswana, and how it stands as a substitute for the designer's expression of personal feelings, she said art has also helped rehabilitate many people, especially those from correctional facilities.