Matinyani Women’s Self Help Group (year 2000 text)

MATINYANI Women’s Development Project

Living according to one’s own weaving patterns
“I used to weave to set patterns and did the same work from morning till evening. lt was just boring.” Tabitha Mutui has left the place behind her weaving-loom and talks about the project which has fundamentally changed her life in the village of Matinyani.
lt is a good 15 years since a group of women here in eastern Kenya began putting their numerous business ideas into practice. The Matinyani Women’s Development Group dries and markets mangoes, makes candles and bakery goods and runs a pottery. Selling and distributing the products create additional jobs. About half the turnover is ploughed back into the project and used for new capital expenditure.
One of the biggest undertakings of the women’s co-operative is the weaving project, which today brings work and income to about 2000 women. Some 100 people every day come to the project’s own center to work in the weaving shop and learn the necessary techniques. It was here that Tabitha Mutui trained and learned to enrich old designs with new Creations: between the white warp threads on her loom there grows, accompanied by the rhythmic tap of the shuttle, a mat of spun and dyed sisal threads. Animals from Kenya can be seen on it, randomly interspersed with geometric patterns.
Tabitha Mutui grew up with the traditional -weaving of Kitui province. Since time immemorial people have used what the dry, arid land produces – sisal – to weave baskets and mats. The women of Matinyani have lovingly revived the old techniques.
Lucia Kiema also learned at the Matinyani center everything about using sisal, from harvesting to dyeing and spinning the thread. Today in her  own home and for herself she weaves sisal Which the women of the project sell to her. From course participant to businesswomen: Lucia Kiema now markets her products herself and in courses shows others how a livelihood can be built up from handicraft and business acumen.

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