OPUWO: Local craftsman, Steven Shikesho, is concerned about the disorder in the marketing and sale of tradition bangles to visitors here.
Shikesho, who makes the popular OvaZemba traditional bangles and sells them at Opuwo, told Nampa on Saturday that other craftsmen and women are ‘terrorizing and harassing’ potential customers.
“There are many mobile bangle and beadwork sellers in the town, and they started terrorizing and harassing potential customers by running after them in front of shops or while in their cars,” he said.
Shikesho said the way the sellers are behaving is totally unacceptable and very disturbing, as it sends out a very bad image of Namibians to visitors, most of them foreigners.
“It would be better if a place in town is given to all the sellers to sell from, where they can wait for customers to approach them, rather than them going after customers,” noted Shikesho.
Shikeho sells his craft on the corner of the Ministry of Trade and Industry building and the entrance to the Opuwo industrial centre, where he is producing his bangles.
He has been selling traditional OvaZemba bangles, made out of metal and plastic pipes in Opuwo, since 2002.
Shikesho, 49, started making “Ovivela” (traditional bangles) 31 years ago.
He learned the craft from his brother. It started as part of traditional skills that every Zemba boy had to have, especially to present them as gifts to girlfriends.
A female traditional bangle seller in Opuwo, Tjiyanetango Mukutu, told Nampa that it is quite tiring to run after customers, adding that it would be best if all sellers are given one place to sell from and where customers can go and select from the items on offer.
“We do not have any other choice then to keep up with the race to run after customers, mostly white customers. If we see a truck or a car with white people, we run towards it to see if they would be interested in buying,” she said.
Mukutu said the bangles sell very well. They go for between N.dollars 5 to N.dollars 20 each, depending on its design and size.
More than 30 traditional bangle sellers can be seen on the streets of Opuwo every day.
Approached for comment, Chief Executive Office of the Opuwo Town Council, Alphons Tjitombo said the sellers do not just disturb the visitors, ‘they are also destroying the image of the tourism industry in the whole area, because the visitors would take that image with them back to their countries’.
Tjitombo told Nampa on Monday that a building is under construction, where the producers of traditional bangles and other arts and crafts would be accommodated in the near future.
“We want all sellers to have stands (stalls) at the cultural village centre under construction or give their products to the cultural centre to sell it on their behalf,” noted Tjitombo.
He said the cultural village was expected to be completed in two months’ time, noting that customers can then make a stopover at the cultural village centre, situated at the entrance of the town, to buy all kinds of souvenirs from the area.