As part of the Crafts Village Nigeria’s mission to create an alternative platform to bolster and promote the Art & Crafts industry in Nigeria, we visited the Mende Cane Village, Maryland to introduce our digital platforms to the local weavers and crafters in this beautifully positioned cane village in Lagos.
The Mende Cane Village is a local craft market located in Maryland, Lagos, beneath the Ojota link bridge. Artisans in this art market use canes to make a variety of furniture and household items, including chairs, tables, baskets, flower vases, and more. The numerous forms that cane wood can take when fashioned into furniture is a magnificent sight to behold. As a result, when people are looking for attractive objects and African products to embellish their homes, offices, and other areas, they come to this location first.
Headed by our Founder, Mr. Ogunbekun Olaitan, the team met with the Cane Weavers Association of the Mende Cane Village to discuss the advantages and some of the challenges of their business. Some of the key points highlighted in the meeting include;
1. Their location (Under Ojota-Link Bridge) being a temporary site and they can be evacuated at anytime by the Lagos State Government.
2. Financial accessibility to help improve production by these local artisans and in-turn grow their business.
3. Accessibility to raw-materials being a key-factor in poor production output.
4. Their business being constraint by virtue of them being under the bridge and many potential customers not knowing their location.
and many other key-points.
You’d think the vendors at Mende Cane Village would have had government assistance as a destination that highlights the diversity of Nigerian culture and history in the heart of Lagos. Mr. Mark Ewhieberene, the chairman of the cane weavers organization, talked about the site of their operation, “This place we are doing business has not been approved by either the Federal or state government. We were formerly occupying a particular land owned by an individual, but when the owner needed to use the land, he gave us a notice to quit. We were left with no option but to find another place to stay. So we decided to occupy this space, under the bridge.”
Mr. Babatunde, a member of the association also addressed the problem of the site, emphasizing the importance of government action in providing an open and visible position for the traders to prosper. “This place is too hidden for customers to locate us.”, he believes. “Many of our customers don’t know how to get here.”
The fact that their location has not been approved by the federal or state governments is a big source of anxiety for the workers in the village. They claim that they chose to stay under the bridge since they couldn’t locate a suitable location for their business. They say that staying beneath the bridge has caused them numerous problems, including harassment, and have requested the authorities to assist them by providing them with a permanent location. “We pay a lot to stay in this place. We pay for trade permits to two local governments- Kosofe and Ikeja. They say it is a federal property we are occupying and we know it is not our permanent site. We face a lot of harassments here. We are pleading with the federal and state governments to save us the harassment by giving us like six hectares of land that will contain all of us and our equipment so that we can have a permanent place to do our business.”, said Mr. Ewhieberene.
Mr Ogunbekun Olaitan then introduced the Crafts Village Nigeria project to the association, stating that the concept of the Crafts Village Platforms is to provide an online presence for every Artists and Crafters in Nigeria.
Coming at a zero-cost and an opportunity for a better exposure in the world of internet, the Crafts Village Nigeria project is aimed at creating an online community for local Artists, Crafters & other Art Businesses to thrive in their crafts by giving them a platform where more users can access their products & services. He went further to explain that our platform is similar to having a store but this time, it will be online unlike their physical stores where they have to wait for a customer to visit them before accessing their products.