Okahandja woodcarvers impressed with Nov business

27 Nov 2013 14:20pm
OKAHANDJA, 27 NOV (NAMPA) – Woodcarvers selling their wares at a market in Okahandja say they have noticed an increase in the number of tourists visiting the market this November compared to the same period in previous years.
The Okahandja Woodcarvers’ Market accommodates more than 150 woodcarvers.
Despite being mostly made of corrugated iron sheets, planks and plastic sheets, the woodcarvers’ stalls continue to attract large numbers of tourists from especially Scandinavian countries and also from Germany and Australia.
The market is situated at Okahandja in the Otjozondjupa Region, some 70 kilometres north of Windhoek.
Several woodcarvers told Nampa here on Tuesday that this November is one for the record books because a sizeable number of tourists have visited the stalls this month, when compared to past years.
“I don’t know the exact number of tourists who visited my stall this month, but I can assure you that November has been a good month for me,” said 35-year-old John Chipolo.
Chipolo, who is from Mayongora village in the Kavango West Constituency, has been operating from the market for the past eight years.
He prefers to sell his products here due to the location of the market, which is situated at the entrance of Okahandja’s central business district (CBD) along the B2 road.
Chipolo mostly sells carvings of elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, zebras, lions and crocodiles, amongst others.
He said for the past months he generated a daily income of between N.dollars 200 and N.dollars 300 from the sale of his products to tourists.
“An income of more than N.dollars 200 a day here is a good income. Our products have no fixed prices and we often negotiate with our clients. So if we sell that much, it is good business for us,” he stated.
Chipolo noted that November and December are usually quiet months for the market. This is especially the case when compared to lucrative business months such as February, April and August when tourists from across the world visit Namibia in large numbers, meaning increased customer numbers for the Okahandja Woodcarvers’ Market.
He called on the Namibian Government to start recognising art work and wood carving activities in the country as important ventures that should receive financial assistance and other incentives.
“If our Government could introduce an incentive of some sort in this industry, many unemployed youths would become motivated and start up their own projects,” he stated, adding that should that happen, Government could look into establishing an ‘art examination board’ comprising art specialists.
Such a board could then also be responsible for seeing to it that the individuals who are engaged in art and handicraft are abiding by the laws and regulations of the industry while turning their crafts into profitable businesses.
Another woodcarver who said she is impressed with the number of tourists visiting the market this month was Julia Moses.
Moses, 29, is from Rundu and has been in the carving industry and operating from the Okahandja Woodcarvers’ Market for the past nine years.
She sells traditional bowls, spears, bangles and earrings, amongst other wood products.
“I learned the skill of crafting from my parents at Rundu, and now it is the only source of income I rely on,” she said.
Moses concurred with Chipolo, saying November this year has been a good month for art and crafts businesses at the Okahandja Woodcarvers’ Market compared to previous years.
She said she had an income of between N.dollars 200 to N.dollars 320 a day, calling it her best-selling month ever.