Thursday, June 29, 2006

A charkha from Maryland to Marrakesh to Mali

A Babe charkha and a Pinkie spinning wheel came with me on a business trip to Marrakesh this month, along with four sets of carders (two for wool and two for cotton) made by Otto Strauch. The tools and equipment were handed over to Youssouf Diallo, a physician from the Mali National AIDS Council, who suggested during our first meeting last month in Nairobi that the women of Segou would be the ideal beneficiaries of my project, "Charkhas for Africa". The city of Segou is known for spinning (with a spindle), dyeing and weaving.

A week before Youssouf came to Marrakesh, he was in Segou and from there, he brought me a woolen blanket and a cotton tapestry (on the sofa behind us) which he said were gifts of frierndship from Segou women.

As I would not be able to travel to Mali this time, Youssouf took the initiative to learn how the equipment worked so he could demonstrate its use back in his country. I must say he took to charkha spinning like fish to water, although he didn't care for the spinning wheel as it required hand-foot coordination.