YEMISI OKUNLOLA writes on the abbreviating fortunes of Ushafa Ceramics Centre, which was already abounding of activity but now gradually descends into an bottomless adumbration of its above self.
Ushafa is a baby Gbagyi association amid in Bwari Breadth Board of the Federal Basic Territory. Ushafa is artlessly an apotheosis of day-tripper attractions and represents an investor’s contentment in tourism.
Several studies on tourism development in Nigeria accept consistently placed the breadth board as one of the areas with the greatest potentials of tourism development in Nigeria. In the FCT this association is accepted for ability in the art of pottery.
As visibly empiric by LEADERSHIP Sunday, Ushafa association is couched on a basin amidst by behemothic rocks of possibly Precambrian age.
The admirable mural is amazing to catch as it is complemented by affluent and adorable vegetation. Some of the adjoining villages accommodate Jigo, Peyi, Znibepe, Bmuko, Kutalu, Baupa, Gudupe, and Panda.
Ushafa is belted on the south-eastern bend by the Lower Usuma Dam, a above antecedent of baptize to the Federal Basic Territory that food baptize to the absolute basic burghal and accessory settlements. It is not out of abode to accompaniment that the association is sited at the ‘river bank’ but the association ablution their easily with spittle.
Mrs Maryam Babangida, the wife of again aggressive admiral in 1991, Gen Ibrahim Babangida, congenital the acceptable ceramics centre into her Bigger Activity for Rural Women pet activity and afterwards inaugurated it as a day-tripper attraction, which in about-face positioned the quiet agrarian adjustment and admiring apple leaders.
Sadly, Ushafa is about unrecognisable, abandoned and larboard to rot. The community, attributable to able accomplishment in ceramics authoritative has admiring visits of apple dignitaries such as above admiral of the United States Bill Clinton and a above prime abbot of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair.
Also, apple leaders like Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak and Swiss carnality president, Ruth Metzier accept visited the centre.
Late Maryam, in 1991 beneath her Bigger Activity Poverty Alleviation Programme called the ceramics apple afterwards Bill Clinton. However, afterwards Bill Clinton visited the apple 20 years ago which drew huge bounded and all-around absorption to Ushafa Apple and its artistic potters, there is about a abbreviating affluence at the centre as it gradually loses the attraction of its age-long art.
The potters, who are mostly women and are of the Gbagi indigenous accumulation are apparent in the centre, anniversary in their huts at the centre breadth they produce, accumulation and advertise their bounded pots. Inside the Ceramics Centre is additionally the avant-garde ceramics flat breadth crafting pieces out of adobe is done with the aid of a machine.
Interestingly, aback asked by LEADERSHIP Sunday all the women agreed to accept learnt the art from their mothers. ‘’This is the alone affair we do for a living. Ceramics to the Gbagi women is a blue-blooded barter that has connected to be handed bottomward from bearing to generation,’’ said Mrs Laraba Joseph a potter.
Speaking added Mrs Joseph who is in her 40’s said she has been in the business aback she was a little girl.
According to her, “I accept been abstraction adobe pots aback I was in primary school. Whenever I acknowledgment home from school, I go to accompany my mother at the Ceramics Centre breadth she makes pots.
“I learnt ceramics and pot authoritative for over 30 years and this is primarily my activity aback I was born. I augment my accouchement through this; pay their academy fees from the money I get from the sales of my work.
“Some years back, we usually get advocacy from foreigners but today, we alone see actual few foreigners who appear about to see what we are doing. This centre is yet to get government absorption in agreement of action and publicity.
“At the moment, we are managing as we do not accept any added job we are doing. This is our assignment and we adulation the activity passionately.’’
Explaining the assembly process, she said, ‘’Pottery is one of the oldest and boundless adorning arts and articles of basic pots, vessels, chaplet and added altar with adobe and added bowl materials. Aback accursed at a aerial temperature either by accessible battlefront in the locally fabricated way or by inserting into a kiln, it gives them a hard, abiding form.”
When asked if she was about aback the above US President, Bill Clinton visited, she said she was about and acquainted actual blessed during the visit.
From the responses this anchorman got from these women, they don’t assume to accomplish so abundant accumulation from the sales of their wares. Mrs Joseph declared that bodies don’t appear about too often, so they don’t get to advertise their articles that much.
“God is allowance us, but there is no market. Our sales are seasonal. It is already in a while, aloof as you accept come.”
Corroborating her account Diana Michael accepted that she and her ancestors associates are managing what they realise from the sales of their articles for their budget as the sales are seasonal.
She said, “We don’t absolutely realise too abundant from the sales of our wares, but I cannot complain. I am beholden to God for whatever I can get to abutment the family.
‘’Though the assignment is challenging, we accept to manage, because if you say you are not accomplishing this work, again you will be affected to advertise firewood or yam.”
To her, she’s bigger off as a potter than accomplishing added things, aback ceramics is a awful admired activity amidst her people.
Mrs Michael explained that afar from the locals who still use adobe to cook, she said best bodies in big cities do not adorned the abstraction of application adobe to cook, as it is advised primitive.
As a result, she acicular out that generally aback tourists appear about at the centre, the adobe articles that do advertise added are those acclimated for decorations, and sometimes, annual vases, aback about everybody loves to bulb flowers in their environment.
More absorbing is the case of an 80-year-old Mrs Saratu Peter, the oldest in the Ceramics Centre, who was apparent sitting in the accessible amplitude abutting to the kiln, abstraction her adobe pot. She said she learnt ceramics eversince her mother was alive.
Peter, who batten through an analyst said, ‘’I learnt ceramics 80 years ago from my mother and I adore the assignment and I am blessed with the work, aback I don’t accept any added assignment to do or ability to do any added work.
“The challenges I face is that I don’t accept legs to airing to any added abode breadth others are working, that is why I am actuality accomplishing the one I can do.”
A bounded residing in the community, Issa Mordi, however, does not accede with the bounded potters. Aback asked how financially enabling ceramics is for the bounded women, his quick acknowledgment was, “If they are not authoritative their money, they will not be actuality today. So, for them to be accomplishing business actuality and accomplishing the aforementioned assignment that agency they are authoritative money to sustain them in business.”
During this reporter’s appointment to the centre, it was noticed that the women don’t do abundant of the adobe pieces acclimated for decoration. Afar from annual vases, baptize pots, affable pots, and dishes which they displayed aback the anchorman visited, the alone adobe pieces that were apparent are adornment (neck chains, earrings and duke bangles) fabricated from clay. Adobe pieces for adornment are fabricated by the avant-garde ceramics studio.
Some association of the breadth who additionally batten to our anchorman said the government can accomplish the centre a day-tripper site, because the actuality that a above United States Admiral had visited the centre.
‘’To us here, the appointment of Admiral Clinton was historic. With his appointment 20 years ago, if it was appropriately harnessed, the centre would accept been fabricated to allure tourists and with that, the government can additionally accomplish acquirement for the country.
‘’Apart from authoritative acquirement for the government, it could additionally accomplish application for the abundant unemployed youth. The government should attending into this administration and advance the ceramics centre,’’ a resident, Charity Chukwueze said.
For Hanatu Gata, an indigene of Ushafa, she averred that afore now, abounding alone appear to buy the admirable pottery, while others, like able potters
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