One industry that seems to have suffered little or no attention in Nigeria is the crafts industry. They are probably more valuable in the rural areas, forgetting the possibilities of its numerous potentials NAOMI ADAMU reports.
The art of creating fantastic objects through human ingenuity, both for cultural and commercial purposes, is synonymous with Nigerians. Almost every tribe is identified with one type of craft or the other. In some cases, crafts are associated with different spiritual beliefs.
If well harnessed, this industry could be developed into a lucrative tourist attraction for the country.
In this season of gross unemployment, craft-making can be used to gainfully engage our jobless youths and improve the standard of living of a lot of Nigerians. It will also assist in checking criminality and the increasing wave of insecurity. In most cases it is used as a therapy, where a patient is taught craft in order to strengthen weak muscles, which in turn helps the patient to avoid the use of artificial limbs.
Also, an emotionally troubled person might be taught the art of craft-making as an outlet for feelings.
Research has also shown that many people engage in different types of craft as a hobby and form of exercise and leisure. It also makes room for innovations.
In Nigeria, crafts can be grouped into textile, pottery and ceramics, bronze, brass and iron, ivory, leather works, tie and dye, etc.
Shafiu Alhassan is a craftsman who has been in the business for decades. He was born and bred in Kano and has been in the business right from childhood.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP WEEKEND, Alhassan said that craft-making was his family business. He produces leather, cushion carpets, makes designs on calabash, embroidering on rugs and shaman carpets.
His works are highly creative as he uses needle and thread to create designs on fabrics.
“Embroidering requires frames and hoops to hold the fabric. Rug hooking is the craft of making rugs by inserting thin strips of wool through a heavy base fabric by means of a hand hook or a punch needle. Rugs are created by tying pieces of tarn on rug canvas with a tapestry needle or a latch hook, or on threads arranged on a loom.
Both hooking and knotting require patience and practice, but are easily mastered,” he said.
He continued, “Leather crafts are made by cutting, shaping and joining techniques. A beginner can, however, start by constructing simple projects with minimum tools.’’
Craft development in Nigeria depends on the peculiarity of diverse cultures and traditions that make up the country. Each of these cultural entities had developed and sustained different techniques of craft that formed part of their immediate environment.
It is time the federal and state governments started paying positive attention to this yet to be gainfully tapped industry which is capable of generating employment and help in stemming the tide of rural-urban migration.