Ethiopian and Chi­nese bam­boo crafts­men work to de­velop the un­tapped po­ten­tial of Africa’s largest bam­boo forests

ChinAfrica - - Lifestyle -

CRAFTS­MAN­SHIP, it is said, is the art of cre­at­ing beauty out of some­thing raw - such as rough poles of bam­boo. The bam­boo is first cut, then mea­sured and drilled. Pieces are at­tached and screwed to­gether, lac­quer is ap­plied and - ta-dah! - in just a few hours, an ex­quis­ite bam­boo chair has taken shape.

Ad­disu Hailu is among the ap­pre­cia­tive au­di­ence of Ethiopian ar­ti­sans who mar­vel at the su­perb skills and speed of their Chi­nese coun­ter­parts - se­nior bam­boo crafts­men from Yiyang in south China’s Hunan Prov­ince, a city known as the coun­try’s “bam­boo cap­i­tal.”

“It is quite dif­fer­ent from our tech­nique,” said Ad­disu, the owner of SA Bam­boo Man­u­fac­tur­ing Plc. based in Ad­dis Ababa, cap­i­tal of Ethiopia. He used to pro­duce bam­boo fur­ni­ture him­self, but de­cided to sus­pend pro­duc­tion due to the ex­ces­sive ho­mo­gene­ity of Ethiopia’s bam­boo mar­ket.

“The de­sign and man­u­fac­tur­ing of most bam­boo prod­ucts in Ethiopia are sim­i­lar. If I can’t do it in a more unique and bet­ter way, I would rather quit,” he said. But Ad­disu says he has now re­gained con­fi­dence in bam­boo man­u­fac­tur­ing thanks to the Chi­nese peers he met.

Ad­disu was among the 41 trainees who took part in the 2017 Train­ing Work­shop on Bam­boo Cul­ti­va­tion and Uti­liza­tion, spon­sored by the Min­istry of Com­merce of China and held by the In­ter­na­tional Net­work for Bam­boo and Rat­tan (INBAR) and the Ethiopian Fed­eral Mi­cro and Small En­ter­prise De­vel­op­ment Agency (FEMSEDA) in Ad­dis Ababa from June 13 to July 15.

The train­ing fo­cused on bam­boo fur­ni­ture de­sign and pro­duc­tion, bam­boo pro­tec­tion and other prac­ti­cal tech­nol­ogy to pro­mote the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of Ethiopia’s bam­boo in­dus­try. The ul­ti­mate goal is to help lo­cal ar­ti­sans such as Ad­disu trans­form abun­dant bam­boo re­sources into high-value prod­ucts.

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