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Monday, 22 July 2013

Craftsmen double stocks for UNWTO

By Andrew Mulenga

It is still a month away, but the vendors and craftsmen who occupy the 60 stalls at Mukuni Park Curio Market in Livingstone have increased their stocks and sharpened their chisels to create yet more handicrafts to cater for the estimated thousands of delegates and tourists that are expected to throng the city.  

Mukuni Park Curio Market Vice-Chairman John Walubita
working on animal carvings outside his stall in
 Livingstone - Picture By Edwin Mbulo
“We plan to have on display certain crafts that we normally export to Countries such as South Africa like elephants and other crafts made out of iron wood. Iron wood fetches a good price when exported and if sold locally the price is low,” says Mukuni Park curio market vice-chairperson John Walubita.

Meanwhile, Mukuni Park the lush green space just behind the stalls will be a venue for performing arts during the 20th Session of the UNWTO General Assembly according to the official exhibition programme from the National Arts Council. The park was in 2008 rehabilitated by the World Bank funded Support for Economical Enhancement and Diversification (SEED). It was an important site for the local population of Livingstone which historically served as a recruitment centre for local African labour and activities such as parade of the Native Police and the Barotse Native Police Band which later became the Northern Rhodesia Police Band that played at the park every Thursday evening.

Nevertheless, if you have no fear of the challenge of extra luggage the best news of all is that you can take it all home with you after all, the theme for all the exhibitions is “Take Zambia Home with You”, encouraging all the delegates to visit the exhibition stands and buy “something Zambian” to take home with them.

According to NAC, all seven official UNWTO hotels will have space reserved for one form of exhibition or another and besides Mukuni Curio Market, handicrafts have several existing and new places.

The Livingstone National Museum will be the official venue for a National Arts Exhibition which will showcase paintings and sculptures; and it is also expected to have fifteen exhibits from Zimbabwe.

For fans of heavier, more solid sculptures, National Airports Corporation has availed space set up a sculpture park in a paved area in between the car park and the airport building.

Falls Park Mosi-O-Tunya Road is will also be among the main exhibiting areas and featuring  two  large marquees which will be mounted at Falls way Park area, one on either side of Mosi-O-Tunya Road, they will accommodate 30 exhibitors each (15 on either side).


Victoria Falls Curio Market

The oldest curio centre in Livingstone has been rehabilitated by National Heritage Conservation commission (NHCC) so as to make the environment of doing business at the world heritage site conducive. While the new curio market is under construction the traders have been temporary relocated to trade at the up-stream viewing point of the Victoria Falls where a makeshift shop has been set up.

Livingstone Museum

While the art gallery at the already popular museum has been made available for the display of artworks the Spanish-style, open-air patio will be used for the launch. Here visitors might just get a delightful surprize because according to insiders, some of the well preserved paintings by Europeans from the 1700s that pre-date Livingstone and have been locked away for safe keeping may just find themselves in the main exhibition space.

Protea Hotel (Falls Way Car Park) and Fallsway Lodge

A total of 60 tables will be allocated to exhibitors to showcase and sell high quality handicrafts and other products. This space will also include exhibitors from the Zambia Development Agency and will include; Zambia Gemstone Miners, Traders and Jewellers Marketing Association, Handicrafts Association of Zambia, Chawama Crafts and Curios Association, Lilanda Crafts and Curios Association, Pakati Kwacha Association, Chikumbuso (Recycled plastics), Evie Nix Fashion, Joel Kapungu, Products from the crafts producers that are being trained by UNDP and NACZ as well as other established crafts producers who will receive personalised invitations.

Maramba Cultural Village

Crafts producers from all across Zambia who participated in the provincial auditions will be here, but there will also be more sheltered exhibition spaces (marquees) created to cater for crafts traders from the streets. This is bound to be the “must visit” area for anyone buying trinkets on a budget. Ornamental mortars and pestles, drums and masks from all over the country will be found here at reasonable prices ideal for souvenirs and gifts for friends and loved ones back home.

Falls Way Lodge, Chrismar Hotel and Sun Hotel, will accommodate arts and crafts whereas the Courtyard Hotel will only house fine art only.

Wayiwayi Art Gallery and Studio

The art gallery and studio space set up in Dambwa North Extension off the Airport Road by the accomplished Zambian art couple Agnes Buya Yombwe and Laurence Yombwe upon their return to Zambia after living and teaching in Botswana for over a decade is also slated to be one of the exciting spaces during the UNWTO.

The space will house a contemporary art exhibition by various Zambian visual artists as well as a crafts exhibition. Visitors will get the chance to purchase jewellery designed by Agnes and her teenage daughter Yande that are fashioned from found and reclaimed objects but are crafted to very high standards that have also been exhibited and well received in exhibitions abroad. Wayiwayi will also be offering a crash course in their speciality, art classes for children and adults, so delegates and tourists will have a chance to get their hands dirty.

This studio space also serves as the Yombwe’s home, so visitors here might also be lucky and sample the hospitality of a truly Zambian couple, the Yombwe’s being as friendly and as welcoming as they are a simply a microcosm of the average, urban Zambian family. As an artist couple their work borrows from the Mbusa initiation rites of the Bemba people in Northern Zambia, either individually or as a duo, Laurence and Agnes remain among the influential contemporary Zambian artists of their generation.

Livingstone Art Gallery Site        

This space off Sichango Road in the Livingstone showgrounds will house the Insaka International Artists Workshop and will host an exhibition exclusive to contemporary art. A total of 14 foreign artists from ten different countries will be in attendance from Austria, China, Ethiopia, Finland, Kenya, South Africa, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Tanzania and the co-host Zimbabwe. It will also feature four Zambians artists who live and work abroad from Norway, Switzerland and the USA as well as a total number of 13 locally based artists from Lusaka, Luapula, Copperbelt and Central Provinces. Organised by the Visual Arts Council of Zambia, this one is bound to be entertaining.

By and large, the 20th Session of the UNWTO General Assembly  is expected to be  an arts and crafts blitz with several spaces for exhibiting items ranging from basketry, jewellery, semi-precious stones, books, photographs,  music CD’s and DVD’s, fabrics, traditional foods and drinks, prints, paintings and sculptures.
But as much as there is considerable excitement among the local curio vendors such as Mukuni Park Curio Market’s Walubita, there are also fears and rumours of ferocious competition from rival curio vendors from the capital and beyond with an estimated 500 visiting merchants among them shrewd and highly skilled Congolese and Tanzanian craftsmen.

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