NIGERIA. Niger State: Rural artisans in Bida town of Nigeria earn more than 50% of their livelihood from local handicraft making.
In Bida town, several craftsmen, whose livelihood depends on making local products like spoons, metals, glass, potters, metal wares, silver, copper, and other pieces of jewelry are deprived of local fame. Their poor economic background and virtually no exposure to the outside world has left them vulnerable.
The artisans have expertise only in their craft, and limited scope for an alternative livelihood.
The history of brass making in Bida
The history of Bida brass making dates back to the 18th century. At that time, various forms and types of brass were made with the help of local brass makers in the area. Bida people are usually known for farming and dealing in other petty trades.
The brass products include aluminum, admiralty, cartridge, high gilding among others. The unique features of brass products include durability, longevity, and resistance against extreme pressure.
But, currently, the major dilemma for these local artisans is the government’s unwillingness to support and invest in their craft business.
With the continuous decline in the Nigerian economy, investing in the trade, and crafts of the nation is the need of the hour.
The need for government’s assistance
With the government’s support, the local artisans will be able to produce many varieties of their products. This in turn will assist in upgrading the country’s economy.
The government’s attention and investment in the age-old Bida brass-making business will also help to fill the unemployment gap. Greater exposure to the outside world will enable foreign investors to invest in the brass-making industry and other sectors.
A nation’s development is dependent on its infrastructure and industrial companies. Hence, investing in the manufacturing industry will help to uplift the country’s economy and empower its youth.
According to the chairman of Bida Brass and Aluminum Workers, Aliyu Danladi, some of the products are also made of silver and gold. Artifacts like boxes, kettles, water cups, souvenirs, bangles, walking sticks, trays, toys, and many other products are made using these noble metals.
No progress in the brass-making industry
“The world is currently living in the 21st century, but there is no sign of advancement for the brass-making industry. We are still stuck in the 18th century,” an artisan who spoke in confidence lamented.
The artisan also pleaded for government intervention so that they can make brass-making their livelihood. Many of the artisans have little or no advanced experience as they only possess the knowledge that they acquired from their forefathers.
The product prices vary by size and quality. “Pots, size 50 cost N29,000 and N30,000. Size 30 costs between N19,000 and N20,000, while size 20 is between N14,000 and N16,000, ” the artisan said.
Lack of advanced technology
Our lives are highly dependent on the technology that we have developed. With increasing demands, the demand for advancing the type of technology has also changed.
Unfortunately, in the Bida brass center, many of the works are still done manually without the use of any modern technology.
Sometimes, the artisans plan to construct a local machine to ease their work. However, due to a lack of financial support, they are unable to execute their plans.
Hence, celebrating the history of brass-making in Nigeria will serve as an avenue to create awareness, showcase the artwork and enlighten the general public about the significance of the local craft.