Traditional potters mould a fortune from clay and sand
Posted Monday, June 25 2012 at 19:16
- At Oriang Women Pottery Group in Kendu Bay, Homa Bay County, 23 women make a living through the messy but viable enterprise of pottery.
Every day for the last 30 years, Salina Oremo has been earning a living by working with clay and this has enabled her sustain her nine children and pay for their education.
The 60-year-old widow moulds pots for cooking, storing water and for decoration. She has mastered the art. Each day she makes four pots commonly known as agulu.
“I look at my products after they are complete and they impress me,” she says of her job.
Many of her neighbours in Homa Bay county prefer cooking in clay pots rather than aluminium cookware because they believe it is good for their health as they can get iron from the clay used to make the vessels.
Besides moulding cooking pots, Salina makes some specifically for water storage which is popular in many households because they cool water and save more energy compared to fridges and dispensers.
“Most of my customers say they prefer clay pots for cooking because they reduce fuel consumption,” says Salina.
She sells them at Sh500 to Sh1,500 depending on the size, quality and usage.
Salina also says that some buy the pots to cook githeri (a mixture of maize and beans) and other traditional foods which require prolonged cooking. This is because pots use less energy.
Wycliffe Oloo, a senior curator at the Kenya National Museums, says the future of pottery is switching from domestic to commercial.
“The traditional uses of pots like cooking and serving food are dying because potters are becoming fewer and most traders have shifted the usage of the earthen vessels to commercial,” he said.
Pottery is an ancient art that is a source of livelihood for many local communities and its products remain beautiful, functional works of art and craft.
In response to the growing demands for safe water facilities in rural areas, Mrs Oremo says that ceramic have been on high demand in the markets and the retail price has grown much higher.
‘‘A big ceramic pot sells at between Sh500 to Sh1,500 depending on the design and size. Others have in-built taps,’’ says Mrs Oremo.
At Oriang Women Pottery Group in Kendu Bay, Homa Bay County, 23 women make a living through the messy but viable enterprise.
According to Mrs Dorina Nyasi, the secretary of group, they can make at least 30 pots in a day which takes only two to three days to dry before firing them in the kiln.