The slow, painful death of Wamunyu wood carving

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Woodcarvings for sale on display at Wamunyu handcraft market. The industry is facing extinction and its on its death bed. (Photo -Hillary/Mauvoo)

Wamunyu is located 30 km from Machakos Town. The town is known to have grown due to Artisanal Handicraft (wood carvings). That is slowly changing as the handcraft is slowly dying. Mauvoo News visited the town to establish the situation.

Mutinda Maluvu from Wamunyu Handcraft Cooperative Society told Mauvoo News that if not considered, the wamunyu handcraft will remain to be a story in a few years to come.

Mutinda revealed that Wamunyu handcraft began in the year 1918 as an invention by Mutisya Munge who started the crafting skills after he returned from the first world war.

He went on to add that most woodcarvers countrywide got their skills from Wamunyu Even those from Mombasa.

“Woodcarving began only from Wamunyu. Moreover, Wamunyu town grew up as a result of the market. Those who do woodcarving across the country learned their skills from here.” said Mutinda

Mutinda Pointed out that Wamunyu handcraft began going down when the government banned the cutting down of indigenous trees in the year 1997.

The society vice Chairman Mutinda, mentioned that the government has been promising to improve their working area by provision of toilets for tourists, water tanks, hotels, fencing the compound among many other promises which remain unfullfilled to date.

“I ask the government to help us and stop ignoring us. Let the government invest here.” Mutinda pleaded

Kyalo Ndaya, a handcraft specialist explained to Mauvoo News that he began the job when it was doing well revealing that the market went down due to a lack of support and fake promises.

“I began working here 20years ago. The market was doing quite well but as of now, it’s almost collapsing. So far we have no youths in the business. Why? Because they don’t see any benefit of them engaging in the business since they see their parents who work here have empty pockets.” Ndaya said.

He went on to say that even those who have been in the business are losing interest one after the other and opting to do other things such as farming.

The woodcarvers requested the government to listen to their long-time cry and fulfill its promises to enable the market to shoot again. The effects of Covid-19 on international travel added salt to the injury for the industry that is on its death bed because of international travel restrictions from 2020.

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