Crafthood, an initiative launched by Travel for Impact and SAREP, aims to promote Botswana’s beautiful handcrafted baskets, as well as the amazing women who create them. Moya Rata, from the Boesja Ward, Maun, is one of the project’s recipients.
How long have you been weaving baskets?
I started weaving baskets at a tender age of 10 years old. My mother was a teacher at Botswana Craft in Etsha 6 so when I came home from school, I would find her sitting down weaving amazingly gorgeous and breath-taking baskets of all colours, sizes and shapes. I then started watching how she weaved and that is how I learned to weave. Now, I can make all sorts of beautiful baskets.
Where does the love come from?
I was intrigued by how a simple palm can be made into something so spectacular. That is where my passion grew; I knew that with that palm, I could make something amazing out of it, something that will catch another person’s eye. The other reason is that my mother weaved baskets for a living. She raised us with the money from the baskets. All our needs were met just from her selling these baskets, so I saw that baskets can also be a livelihood.
Our main challenge is the market for baskets. Since we don’t have a lot of places to sell the baskets, sometimes, because we need the money, we must sell the baskets at a lower price. If I say, ‘the basket is P50,’ someone will complain and want me to sell it for much less, not taking into consideration the size, design, or the amount of time spent making it. People don’t always remember that I also must make profit out of this – this is my livelihood – we must travel outside Maun to get the palm to make the baskets. There are also some health challenges. We get sore backs, shoulders and very rough hands because of the needle. Apart from TFI, we don’t have any other support which is hard. More help would help open the basket market even more.
What has your relationship with Travel for Impact been like?
I started working with Travel for Impact in 2012 when I started attending their workshops. Before, I would just charge any price that came to mind without looking at the value of what I have made. TFI provided a platform for us basket weavers to know the value of our baskets; they helped us make uniform measurements for basket weavers across Botswana. They taught us that before you sell, look at the design and sizes. I now know that when I charge, all these have been taken into consideration. This way, baskets are not sold at a very low price while they could be worth more. Nowadays, I am satisfied when pricing the baskets.
In the future, we hope to have a Crafthood shop/market. That way, we can have a sustainable income and we will be able to raise our children. I hope to get invited to exchange programs where we can teach people abroad how to weave baskets. I also wish that basket weaving would grow so we can offer basket weaving classes here. Most importantly, I wish to have a market to sell our baskets so we can also can donate to the less fortunate. I have a talent for weaving baskets, why should I let it go to waste? I want to share my talent with the world.
[Interview excerpts translated from Setwana]