Molepolole basket maker making it big
For more than 16 years, a Molepolole woman has successfully earned a living from weaving and selling baskets.
For most of the working week, 65-year-old Oitshupile Makgasapane can be found toiling away from the comfort of her home in Goo-Modibedi Ward, expertly weaving her traditional creations into life.
It is a painstaking process that requires plenty of patience and just as much skill.
Her small baskets take a week to make and cost P100 whilst her bigger ones can take up to a month to complete and are priced at P250.
Makgasapane inherited her weaving ability from her mother, adding with a wry, humble smile, that her mum “was much better at it than I am”.
Although Makgasapane was introduced to the art of basket making in her early 20s, it was not until the turn of the millennium that she decided to try and make some money from her talent.
“I became more active in 2000 where I used to do about six of them and carry them to my brethren at Natural Church of God in Botswana. They would take and pay me later. Some assisted me by selling to other people from outside the congregation – by that time I sold them P50 each,” she explained, her wrinkle-free face lighting up at the memory.
When she can, the old woman uses Motlhaka grass to make her neatly woven baskets.
However, she explained that particular type of grass is extremely difficult to find and only grows during the rainy season, near the dams.
Makgasapane currently uses Motshikhiri grass, which she collects while still greenish and then waits for a week for it to dry.
Her baskets are predominantly brown, some plain and others designed with an assortment of darker patterns.
Her products can be used to store sorghum as well as beans and other types of dry seed.
They are also perfect as decorative pieces to brighten up the house and give it a more traditional feel.
Makgasapane’s reputation as a basket weaver has been steadily growing over the years, winning awards and gaining recognition for her expertise.
“I was once called at the museum; they just wanted to see my work. This year July, one of my baskets got position three in competitions held at Kubung village and the other one has been taken to Gaborone. I am still waiting for the results and awards,” she said with a smile that reaches her lucid eyes.
The committed pensioner is determined to expand her range of designs and, although it would mean more competition, she wishes there were other women in the village doing the same thing, as then she could learn different styles from them.
The hardworking elder cited the most challenging thing in her business as being customers who place orders but fail to collect on time, while others delay paying her.
For the passionate weaver however, these are inconveniences that will not deter her from pursuing her basket-making enterprise.