Hard times for Keetmanshoop woodcarvers
It is not business as usual for woodcarvers at Keetmanshoop as they struggle to sell their work to generate money to support themselves and their families.
The woodcarvers narrated to New Era that there has been a drastic fall in sales this year, saying customers rarely stop to look at their carvings, while those that do rarely buy them.
Members of Ruhepo Wood Carving & Trading cc indicated business is not going well this year, as their products such as chairs and tables are not being bought, which means no income.
They say the logistics of the business require getting wood from as far as the two Kavango regions, and they spend a lot of money on transport and thus don’t make huge profits, but the lack of customers this year has made it worse, and they end up sitting with their products for months.
“We don’t usually make huge profits but it’s enough to sustain our families, but it’s worse this year as there are no customers,” said 42-year-old Matheus Immanuel.
Immanuel, who is a father of seven, says his wife and children depend on his small income from the business and the lack of customers is proving to be a huge problem for him and his family.
Another woodcarver, Muzaza Mulembe, who has been in the business since 2005 narrated to New Era that the business is his only source of income, adding that he travelled over 1 000 kilometers from Rundu to Keetmanshoop so that his family could have bread on the table but sales this year have not gone very well.
“We are trying hard to take care of our families, but then you come here and customers don’t buy your products and this means there is nothing for your family,” he said.
He is also of the opinion that the drought might be contributing to the problem, saying people can’t afford to buy anything else than food.
“I think the drought is somehow also affecting us, because even if someone wants to buy, they would rather buy food for their family than buy a table,” he said.
Woodcarvers also pleaded with the Keetmanshoop Municipality to set up a toilet for them as they currently use the open space when nature calls, while also calling on government to assist them with proper shelter and storage for their products, which they say are sometimes stolen as the tents where the goods are stored are not lockable.