Making a living out of blinds

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday 16th November 2011

Story and picture by Francis Poka
PEOPLE in Kowangil, Imbonggu district, Southern Highlands, can now earn a living by weaving blinds made out of pitpit canes.
More than 500 people living in the area have struggled to survive in a cool climate with hardly any food crops grown.
The soil is not that fertile for coffee or other cash crops to pay for their children’s school fees or meet basic necessities.
All they are living on are prayers, having faith in God to give them strength to walk 10km from their villages to search for fertile land to cultivate and make gardens.
The only source of income is the sale of woven blinds on the roadsides to passers-by who buy them to build houses.
Experienced blind weaver Simon Tombo Rema said the weaving project was started by their forefathers in the 1970s and was still practised today.
He said it was not only for building houses but selling blinds was the only source of income for most of them, given the pitpit canes grew in abundance there.
He said blinds cost K4 for 14 feet in the 1970s and 1990s but from 2000 to 2011 prices had increased from K50 to K100 per blind.
He said the increase in prices meant blind sizes had risen to 20-36 feet.
“We increased the prices because the demand was high and the size increased at the request of customers,” he said.
“Today young men in the area are busy weaving blinds because of the demand in the LNG project area,” he said.
Rema said in Kowangil village youths were busy making blinds and could hardly be seen wandering around the road sides or staging roadblocks.
He said with the youth occupied people and vehicles “are moving freely without any trouble”.