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The gods Answer Basarwa’s Cry For Ostrich Egg-Shells

MONKAGEDI GAOTHOBOGWE
Working with ostrich egg shells. Some of the 20 crafts women at a week long workshop supported by Orange Foundation
Basarwa craftswomen were working with the hard to find ostrich egg shells again last week as the gods delivered them the rare gifts in five 50kg bags filled with the ostrich egg shells.

Other paraphernalia included sewing needles,  threads and beads, crushed eggshells crushers and cutters and weaving material.

It was a gathering of 20 of the best Basarwa and Hambukushu craftswomen taken from three of the 16 settlements of Basarwa, as the Ghantsi Craft centre and Orange Botswana put joy on the faces of the famous craftswomen who have been of late struggling to find ostrich egg shells to continue their age old ornamental tradition. The Basarwa women from Ghantsi, Qabo, and D’kar, narrated how these days they are forbidden by the Wildlife Department from fetching ostrich egg shells in the bush as such an activity has now been criminalised.

Now for them to have any chance of designing and producing their crafts with the much needed ostrich eggshells, they must order the material from ostrich abattoirs in Gaborone or Talana farms. It is not easy though, it cost money as one now has to find enough funds for transportation, delivery, over and above the purchase price.

Orange Botswana answered the Basarwa prayers like the gods as 20 of the best crafts producers gathered from their various villages at the Ghantsi crafts for a workshop of sharing ideas, and competing for the best crafts for an opportunity of a lifetime as Orange Botswana suppliers.

The Basarwa craftswomen are renowned for their jewellery making skills, as well as belts, head-bands, necklaces, bracelets, ear-rings, ankle bracelets, neck-bands, bandoleers, pendants, to name a few.

Through their community reach out program Orange Botswana this year identified

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the Basarwa women, one of the worst disadvantaged communities in Botswana, for an entrepreneurship empowerment opportunity.

It is part of the corporation’s annual effort to empower women entrepreneurs by buying as much as 500 or more gifts from the selected winners. The goods would then be used by Orange as token of appreciation to their various stakeholders with the names of the designers/producers engraved on the gift item, along with contacts.

The winning producers  would  also  be incubated by Orange and assisted with exposure platforms and other fringe benefits necessary for the growth of a start-up.

Basarwa of Ghantsi were dying for this opportunity. Over the weekend Orange Botswana also exhibited the Basarwa craftswomen’s produce in their stall (Orange Botswana) at the just concluded World Information and Technology Society Day (WITSD) held in Ghantsi throughout last week.

According to Ghantsi Craft coordinator Mmamaswe Kikonyane, the craftswomen are skilled in turning the originally white egg shells into black and brown colours through varying heating temperatures.

Orange Botswana  spokesperson and foundation manager  Boga Chilinde also sensitised Basarwa women  about the woman  empowerment project, Women for Change, where influential women in the field of  entrepreneurship promotion stand a chance to win  P300 000 as they compete with the rest of  their peers in the continent. Chilinde also told the women about the success of a fellow Botswana women leader of Kgetsi ya tsie, who won herself P60 000 after her project was selected to compete in the finals last year.



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