Bauxite bead makers at Abompe in the Fanteakwa South District of the Eastern Region have appealed for modern tools that would take away the laborious processes, make them efficient and help them to produce to meet international standards.
Beads from the people in the area are a special kind, different from the usual beads on the market because they are made from local bauxite soil in their community.
Local historians say the distinct soil was discovered by some hunters several years ago and developed it into beads in three households at Abompe.
“Some hunters saw this kind of bauxite and realised it could be developed into something,| according to an elder of the area, Nana Kofi Buabeng.
He said this type of bauxite beads has now become the preserve of the people of Abompe who are mainly bead makers and farmers.
“It is different from the usual stones we have here. Those hunters who discovered the distinct soil were the only producers of the beads several years ago. As time passed several others learnt [and] it is now a community business,” he said.
Today, the special bauxite beads is made by the old and young in several households of Abompe manually using local traditional tools.
This, the bead makers say, is makes production tedious because it requires a lot of energy.
According to the producers, the energy level needed for producing the beads takes a toll on them as they have grown older; indicating it also affects output and standards expected.
Akwesi Asante who has been producing a special kind of needles for the women for stitching the beads into lovely necklaces and wrist beads told 3news.com that the business has been his only source of livelihood.
The 3-year-old man produces a maximum of 100 needles a week, which sells at 2 cedis each.
“This is the only work I do, business is good. I pray they open up the shelter under construction soon for us to move in,” he said.
Most of the women in the bauxite bead business learnt the craft from their grandparents and have been producing for an average of 30 years using the same old manual tools.
Their old age cannot make them exert the needed energy in the several processes to produce more of their bauxite beads.
They are thus appealing for modern equipment that can help them expand produce with little manual work so they can produce more and expand their businesses at the same time.
Obriwaa Orison said started bead making in 1974, noting proceeds from the business is what she has survived on all these years and used same to educate her children.
“My children are at the various levels of their academics through the gains from this business. If we will get a modern machine, we will be happy. The work is stressful; we don’t have the youthful energy again. I can sell 250 cedis on a good day and 90 cedis on a bad day,” she said.
Mercy Baah, another bauxite bead maker said “the job demands a lot, I am tired now. We need support in terms of modern equipment. We are happy the shelter for us will open soon,” she appealed.
Meanwhile, Ghana export promotion authority director Afua Asabea Asare and her officials have been to the Abompe community to interact with the chiefs and producers of the bauxite bead makers in the area.She observed the bauxite bead was an unexploited area the nation could develop for the international market.
“The women are doing their best using primitive tools. It’s about time we took this business to another level. We have built a shelter for them. That is not the only thing, we can support them in acquiring the best of tools, train them with new designs that the market requires” she noted.
She added: “They even do buttons here, our designers can take advantage and use that. Why would you use plastic buttons when you have bauxite ones here?”
By Yvonne Neequaye|3news.com|Ghana