DISABILITY IS NOT INABILITY

Widowed Butula woman finds comfort in basket weaving

Edna who is disabled sustains her family through her artwork

In Summary

•Edna started artwork when she was a young girl, a practice she learned from her grandma.

•She hopes that one should be able to get a wheelchair to help in her movement or even a buyer to purchase her products at wholesale price.

A woman weaves a mat from sisal
A woman weaves a mat from sisal
Image: /FILE

Christine Edana, from Nela village, Butula subcounty in Busia is widowed and disabled. However, this has not stopped her from doing her basket weaving artwork to sustain her family.

Edna started artwork when she was a young girl, a practice she learned from her grandma who was one of the best and skilled basket weavers at Lugulu market.

From her aesthetic and unique style, Edna makes different colours of baskets from ordinary palm leaves. 

“Getting the palm leaves is a challenge because of my status. It requires one to work for long distances along the river banks to get the materials,” she said.

Sometimes she is forced to buy the palm reeds from friends, to enable her to sustain her customers and market competition.

Edna says the vigorous process requires patience since it entails drying palms for at least a week, before mixing with colour extracted from the trees, to add beauty to the baskets.

“After cutting the reeds, I dry them for one week before cutting them into the required size,” she said.

“I put the reeds in a boiling pot that contains the colour mixture obtained from tree leaves, flowers for two hours to obtain the required colour,”

The palm reeds are most suitable for making beautiful and long-lasting baskets that can carry goods for a long distance, unlike the other bags.

The basket is environmentally friendly.

“When one is creative, physical disabilities can limit them but with passion, you can change your work,” she said.

Edna makes between five to ten baskets a day, depending on the size and style or the design the customer desires.

The biggest challenge is marketing her products.

She is forced to rely on friends to sell them to Butula and Murumba markets, however, some are not trustworthy.

The new carrier bags and plastic bags smuggled from Uganda, remain her competitor because of their low cost, even though they are not long-lasting.  

She hopes that one should be able to get a wheelchair to help in her movement or even a buyer to purchase her products at wholesale price.

Edna also believes that she would be able to sell her products to President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto.

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris