Sep 07, 2015 News
– producers agree more permanent site needed
By Mondale Smith
Over the past few days the artistic and creative abilities of the indigenous peoples caused quite a stir, through the many original, ‘one of a kind’ pieces on display at the Amerindian village in the Sophia Exhibition Complex.
Through creative use of bamboo, nibbi, mukru and tibisiri as well as seeds, natural fibers and feathers, the nation’s first people captivated patrons.
The sellers cashed in while indigenous craft lovers had their fill of some of the best from the producers themselves. But as the curtain came down last evening their stories of the experience were bittersweet. Most cashed in but others will have to return to their villages with many of their creations, due to the limited time at the village.
The echoed sentiment is the common need for a central location in the nation’s capital where local and international tourists can access indigenous creations directly from the producers.
As has been the case for years, those individuals and groups are headed back home to their hinterland life in anticipation of the next big sale days. This, for most, is one year away when Guyana will again begin celebration of Indigenous Heritage month. Many activities are planned nationwide, but none will be of the magnitude as the one held in the Sophia exhibition site.
The producers themselves, as well as patrons, expressed the hope for local authorities to afford them the opportunity of a grand market location, where they can meet the needs of tourists while having closer one-on-one interaction while being gainfully employed.
The exhibitors, drawn from Amerindian settlements across Guyana, are of the view that while the sales started out slow, the craft items were sold out like ‘hot cakes’.
“This village worked well for sale of my creations, but I wish if it could be extended to at least a one weekend each month activity, because I’m going home and there is not much of a demand for the items in my village,” said Region 3, Santa Mission resident Lorna De Combre. She had lots of items, such as wooden spoon sets, placement mats and fruit baskets. Santa Mission has a craft shop, she stated, but what happens to the individual producers is her question because tourists don’t often come in droves to that location.
Face painter Latoya Moffat, on the other hand, is from Georgetown. She decided to join in the one week celebration at the Sophia heritage village and for her it worked out well. She did tribal paintings, flowers and cartoon characters on the faces of visitors.
“This is my first time and it was great for me to have something to do that I’m good at while earning. I just wish we had more time here in the Heritage village and more space too.”
This year’s one week event had several first time participants, including Sharon Williams and her partner from Moruca.
“Sales were good, it was worth coming to town for, but we wish it was longer or maybe we can have an indigenous craft village or fair at least three times a year during peak tourism seasons in town,” they agreed. “If we get more occasions like these, then we would continue to make our tibisiri, ornaments, knitting and so on.”
Kato villager, Evelyn Felix, at 60 years old, tried her hand at creating craft items six years ago, and started taking her creations to the Heritage Village, one week event three years ago.
“I’m happy to celebrate heritage month and people like all the indigenous creations but this is the only time that I does sell out all of my craft.” She makes beaded chains and items with seeds and nuts and in her assessment, the village needs more publicity and more involvement from Amerindians.
“We need it more than just once a year, because it creates gainful employment and a chance for us and more so the young ones to see the city and learn about cultures.”
Janette Patterson and her family are from Santa Mission, Region 3 where the Amerindian village day is slated for staging on September 12. Her offerings included fruit baskets, jewellery boxes, table mats and the likes and she said “sales were okay for me, but I wish we had some more time, because I still have things that I will have to take back home. I wish this was like a long term tourist attraction, plus it would guarantee us full time employment, because in our village there is not work for us and the young people.”
Kabakaburi, Upper Pomeroon Mission, Region Two residents, Pauline Chance and Vesta George, took a chance as first time craft vendors at the Heritage event in Sophia, and they have no regrets.
“We never realize that this trip to Georgetown would be so rewarding, but we don’t have any regrets at all. But we wish we had more time, because we were making things while selling.” their offerings included tibisiri skirts, spin balls, table mats, jewellery boxes and ornaments.
But even as the feedback was good for most craft vendors Elizabeth Dick of Moraikobai, Region Five, had a different tune.
“I’m not so happy, because my group made a lot of things but our craft sales were not so good. Maybe if we had more time for sales we would have gotten more support.”
The hope to have more than just one week, once a year at the Indigenous Heritage Village event to earn and network is echoed by all, most of whom said they have other creations that are much more creative but they did not want to risk bringing them out to have to return home with them.
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