Traditional Crafts to Learn Anywhere in Kenya
There are hundreds of crafts to learn in Kenya during your safari. Kenya has over 40 tribes and each community has a unique way of life. There is a lot to learn as you mingle with people from different communities, especially people from tribes that still adhere to their traditional way of life.
Crafts in Kenya are in fact part of an industry that drives the country’s economy, known as the jua kali sector. Jua Kali is Swahili for hot sun, which reflects the rigorous work artists have to do under the scorching sun to create marvelous pieces. Though some of these courses require more time, you can acquire a few basic skills before your safari is over.
The main crafts to learn in Kenya are
Learn ceramics and pottery so you can confidently mould pots, plates, beads and other items. Pottery is one of the oldest crafts in Africa; most communities in Kenya had distinctively styled household items, most of which are preserved in national museums around the country.
Find pottery and ceramics classes in Nairobi and other major towns. For example, Waithira Chege, a renowned ceramist, offers classes for adults and children. The course takes you through topics such as the different types of clay, hand building, wheel skills, firing and glazing. It is a ten sessions’ course, which you can complete within two weeks.
Discover the many things you can create from recycled glass. Kitengela Glass Research & Training Trust teaches a variety of courses including glass blowing, mosaic tiling and stained glass making. This school caters for individual learners, and groups. It is located in Lang’ata, within Kitengela Glass Centre.
The Maasai and other Nilotic communities such as the Turkana and the Samburu still make and wear beaded jewellery. For that reason, if you wish to get firsthand knowledge of this craft, visit the local tribes in Maasai Mara, Amboseli National Park, Samburu National Reserve and around Lake Turkana. Most women groups in these areas etch a living from beadwork. Nevertheless, beadwork lessons are also available in workshops in towns and cities in Kenya.
Henna Body Art
Henna body art is the norm at the coast of Kenya and among Cushitic communities in Northern Kenya. It is also gaining popularity among Christians all around Kenya. Learn how to draw intricate designs from henna experts at the coast of Kenya. Henna body art is quite popular with brides in Hindu and Muslim marriage ceremonies.
Traditional baskets, popularly known as kiondo, are popular in most communities in Kenya. These products are available in Maasai markets around the country. Instead of buying the finished product only, why don’t you learn how sisal fibre and nylon threads are turned into bright and beautiful baskets?
You can also learn how wool creates fashionable items. Such classes are available in non-governmental self-help groups as well as in church based self-help groups such as Nanyuki Spinners & Weavers.
Curios are on sale along highways, in cultural markets and in gift shops. Find out how these are made through talks with artists or by visiting galleries and workshops. You can also learn about wood carving during your voluntourism period.
For example, volunteer at the Bombolulu Workshops and Cultural Centre at the coast of Kenya and learn how to make salad spoons, wooden Maasai sculptures, wooden wildlife animals, wooden coasters, nativity sets, fish salad spoons and masks.