Bioko artisan collective
Using a woven technique, basketry is formed to reveal darkened warp fibers for a variegated surface design. Basketry in the village is intended for a regular function for easily carting the shrimp, crayfish, and small bait fish up the mountain to its summit. The baskets are durable, resilient in water, and flexible for carry. Materials are gathered from palm canopies and separated into fibrous strips. The strips are woven to form the canvas, gathered, and tied off to appropriately finish the ends of the cylindrical baskets. Each is dried by a mixed ratio of sun and fire to secure the basket shape and seal the fibers, guarding against progressive water degradation. Baskets come in a variety of styles, now including baskets with fitted lids or traditional cones.
The Bioko Artisan Collective was started to facilitate micro-enterprise in rural communities by empowering members to develop sustainable, eco-friendly livelihoods. In partnership with the BBPP, members of the collective produce and sell uniquely hand-crafted pieces using sustainable and recycled materials. Individuals in these communities are empowered to broaden their skill sets and are encouraged to value the opportunities provided by protecting their natural resources. This project promotes sustainable development and the usefulness of available native materials, while contributing to the preservation of wildlife and cultural traditions that are being increasingly lost. Recent visitor attraction to the Reserve has allowed the members of the collective to develop their own business management techniques and increase their economic stability.
Handcrafted necklaces and bracelets are made using beautiful, vibrantly colored fabrics and tiny volcanic stones found on the black sand beaches of the southern coast of Bioko. Some women incorporate local seashells, sea glass, seeds, or other sustainable items which makes each piece unique. Additionally, the project has expanded to handcrafts such as traditionally woven baskets and hand carved canoes.
Most recently, men from the village have become members of the collective by developing the sales of traditional Bubi carvings. Each carving is hand-crafted from local wood, collected in a sustainable matter. Although the project started with the development of the carved canoe, it has recently expanded to include new designs such as decorative oars of various sizes and traditional tribe bells.
For more information about the BAC, please contact Dana Kluchinksi, Ureca Nature Center Director at Dkluchinski@gmail.com.
All photos seen above are credited to National Geographic Photographers Tim Laman, Ian Nichols, Joel Sartore, and Christian Ziegler as well as numerous members of BBPP (staff, students, and volunteers).