We usually use straps to seal our parcels in place before they are delivered to different destinations. However, Olishaba Elizabeth has found other novel ideas about the use of these straps; she weaves them into baskets. Since 2006, she has been in the business of making baskets from straps. Her skill brings together a collection of beautiful and attractive baskets, a desire for every woman.
The advantage of these strap baskets over the traditional ones made from organic materials is that they have a very long lifespan owing to the fact that they are made from plastic. Olishaba retells how she did not go to school to learn how to weave, but learnt the craft from a certain Kenyan lady. This was at a cost which Olishaba complied to pay before she could get the tutorials, thus, whatever money she got her hands on was earmarked for the weaving project.
With her zeal and interest in getting the art, it did not take her long before she mastered the techniques. Upon mastering the art of basket making, Olishaba abandoned her job as a subsistence farmer and went full scale into the trade. Over the years, she has also taught several ladies who are interested in making baskets at a moderate fee. She is often in the company of other ladies who are either learning or with whom she works to meet orders from clients. She has a small group of ladies who frequent her verandah, which has now been turned into a working place, to labor the day-to-day hustle.
Olishaba’s passion for basket weaving is evident in the way she goes about her daily routine. The dexterity and swift speed of her fingers and wrists while she holds a casual conversation puts her to the level of an experienced professional. Yet, she is relaxed at work, executing intricate designs. It wouldn’t be necessary to ask her if she enjoys her work. In many cases, women who are attracted in her work and probably would like to buy her baskets, end up entangled in a long conversation with her because of her welcoming personality.
She is a mother of two children; Sendegeya Hannington nine years old, in primary four and Faith Mukisa six years old, in primary two. As their mother, she has taught them the art of weaving baskets, which comes naturally for a young Faith as she maneuvers her little fingers between the straps to create adorable designs. The little basket maker demonstrated her abilities, which left this writer in awe.
It is clearly evident that from selling these baskets, the family can support their livelihood. Olishaba says, she has managed to buy several animals, which she rears in her home district of Ibanda in western Uganda, where she has also managed to build a modest house. Her biggest dream is to build a house in Kampala which she says is a pride most people who migrate from rural to urban centers consider a great achievement. Her baskets range in pricing from 10,000Ugx to 60,000Ugx depending on the size and design.
By R.N. Ayago
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