Tsumeb Arts and Crafts Center, Namibia
While living in Tsumeb, Namibia, I had the privilege of working with Mr. Martin Aiff in co-founding the Tsumeb Arts and Crafts Center, an educational and charitable trust which we established to help Namibians develop, promote and market their wide range of arts and crafts. A Board of Trustees was formed and a regional facility was developed. The center includes crafts people working on site, exhibitions and a showroom where the final products can be sold to tourists and the public. Among others, the crafts featured include basketry, sewing, pottery, fabric design, wood carving, fence making, brick making, and more. It also provides classes for making crafts and for childrens’ art studies.
One of the projects initiated by the Trust was teaching the San (Bushmen) women fabric painting and dyeing and then fashioning the fabric into clothing. It was the first time they had used paints and a paint brush and the designs came pouring out of their hearts! They received an invitation to travel to Windhoek to show at an exhibition what they had created. The Trust helped them learn how to start, finance and maintain their own businesses with the profits they made from sales of their cloth and other items.
This was how the Tsumeb Arts and Crafts Centre looked when we created it. The Centre has continued to grow and evolve, serving the community under the able direction of Mrs. Gerda Aiff, Ms. Brigitte Aiff and their support team. It continues to provide a means for talented Namibians to develop their skills and earn a living.
“Art is an effort to create, beside the real world, a more human world.”
— Andre Maurois