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School Drop-Out Weaves Baskets To Survive

PINI BOTHOKO
FRANCISTOWN: A majority of unemployed youth have a tendency of losing hope, but this has not been the case with Moshinga Ndhao, 25, who has turned basket-making into a living.

Ndhao, who hails from Maun, is living testimony that one can use his or her talent to eke out a living as she uses her weaving skills to put food on the table.

The woman who weaves and sells basketry dreams to one day own a shop with all kinds of her works and be able to hire other Batswana.

Speaking from her stall at the just-ended fourth Northern Women’s Business Exposition held in the second city recently, Ndhao proudly says she is able to fend for herself and her children without turning to anyone for assistance through selling her basketry.

She says she uses palm tree (barchemia discolour euclea divinorum) known as Mokolwane to weave her baskets.

She adds that even though it took her a while to start weaving for business, the business hit the ground running when it started in 2014. Ndhao says she inherited the sewing talent from her grandmother, Kushumona Ndhao, who also survives on basketry.

“I am from a family of people who are talented in sewing and I grew up seeing them do it as a leisure pursuit and in 2007 after failing my Form 3, I started to focus on sewing.

She adds: “In 2014 I found a niche in the market and requested funding from Gender Affairs to turn my sewing talent into a business”. Ndhao weaves bowels in different shapes that can be used as containers known as tlatlana in Setswana, trays (leselo), laundry baskets to

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mention but a few using the Mokolwane tree.

“I have preferred to use Mokolwane because it is common around Maun.  I occasionally travel to Shorobe village to purchase my raw materials at an affordable price,” says the soft-spoken Ndhao. She says how one stitches when weaving is important, as it is the one thing that determines the quality of their craft.

The mother of three, two girls and a boy, says even though weaving baskets can take days, a month or months of painstaking work they are profitable because small baskets are sold from P200 to P300.

“The medium ones range between P200 and P500, the big ones go for P600 and upwards.  There are some that can be sold at P1,500 or P2,000 depending on the size and quality,” says Ndhao, a street vendor, who sells her basketry in a shack next to Maun airport. She says her customers are tourists, individuals and the business community, especially those who own craft shops.

Ndhao applauds the Department of Gender Affairs for this initiative stating that using her basketry profits, she built herself a two-bedroom house with a living room, kitchen and an en-suite bathroom.

She plans to group interested female youth in her area to teach them how to weave.

“My wish is for them to join me so that we can be able to produce more quantities and be able to supply craft shops as far as Gaborone with our basketry,” says Ndhao.



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