Wood and leather home accessories in West Africa
"Typical of many a childhood life in Mali, mine was spent as a shepherd boy.""I am Mohammed Sckeek Hamani. Mohammed is my family name. I am from the Republic of Mali, born in 1973. Presently I have made my home in Ghana, where I live with my wife. Typical of many a childhood life in Mali, mine was spent as a shepherd boy. As such I did not have the opportunity of having any formal education. I, however, started learning how to make these boxes when I was 15 years old.
"I come from a family of artisans. My grandfather and my father were both artisans. I trained for three years under my father; he is the very person who inspired me.
"The basic materials I use in making these pieces are hardwood, glue, leather and velvet. The process involved is quite simple but for the designs on the boxes which require a certain measure of expertise. After making the box, the leather is stretched over it and glued together. Care is then taken to make beautiful and intricate designs on it. The inside of the box is lined with velvet material to ensure the safety of items inside.
"I make various boxes for keeping jewelry, compact disks and complimentary cards. Apart from serving these purposes, the boxes are also ideal as decorative pieces.
"All told I have participated in three national fairs. The response of each was very encouraging. Within the past ten years, I have trained so many people, including my wife, in the trade. Currently, there are ten people training with me."