THE TRIBAL DRUM
We were delighted to welcome our artists back a few weeks ago after nearly three months’ absence during the rainy season. During that time there was much change in Zambia; we have a new President in His Excellency Edgar Chagwa Lungu; the rains have turned the dry, desolate bushvelt into a lush green wonderland; the farmers are getting ready to harvest their maize and at Tribal Textiles, we have made some improvements both front and back of house!
The PF government made improved roads one of their manifesto promises, and certainly better communications will help Zambia’s development. In the process of upgrading the road past Tribal HQ, our painted sign-pillars came off worse in an argument with a bull-dozer! Now that the rains have started to ease, we have rebuilt these pillars and Kennedy and his team of painters have decorated them in even greater style than before.
In the offices, the team have been busy too. In June, we are proud to say that we will be launching our own online shop, selling our products online and shipping them worldwide from our base in Mfuwe! See above for a couple of ‘screen grabs’ taken from the site. Our best-selling products will be available from the start, with more products introduced over time. Keep an eye on our website, Facebook page and Pinterest boards for details of launch date, promotions and further information. Our stockists will continue to hold large ranges of up-to-date stock in their shops worldwide, and we thank them for supporting us over many years of operations. Details of all our stockists can be found on our website.
While our online shop is a nod to the future, much of Tribal remains as it has since the company began nearly 25 years ago; the production process has evolved, but still relies on the skill, concentration and dedication of our team of artists. We have recorded excellent early-season production results and for that we thank each artist and the heads of department under the watchful eye of Moses Musa, our veteran workshop manager. New this year, working in partnership with Moses, is Priya Shah who joins us as Production Manager after many years of work in the safari industry. She is already proving a great asset and is leading the artists into a new year of producing high-quality textiles in the middle of the bush!
One of Priya’s first assignments is to develop Tribal’s new screen-print range. In advance, founder and Director Gillie Lightfoot has been working on new designs which are modern in their look but inspired by Tribal’s rich heritage. Her drawings and motifs echo the symbolism and creativity of Tribal but are more versatile in their possible applications. Products using these new designs will be available later in the year, both at our shop in Mfuwe and also online. Here are a few photos as a sneak preview of what we are working on.
The rains is also a time when we take stock of our designs and colourways and refine our range of products. We have shot new photos of an old favourite, Raindance in Rajasthan (coming soon to our website!) and we are pleased to announce the launch of a new design: Plume in Pomegranate (see images below). The photoshoot for Plume was heavily threatened when two vehicles got stuck in the mud on route to the site, but with perseverance, a fair amount of sweat and plenty of manpower, both were freed and we set everything up in time to catch the warm evening sunshine.
Following on our series of staff stories, we would like to tell you Stella Sakala’s story this time around. Stella is one of Tribal Textiles’ older members of staff; she is 55 and has worked with us for thirteen years. She is Head of our Washing Department, a role she attained in 2006 due to her very hard work and positivity. When we asked her what she most enjoys about her job she told us that she gets great satisfaction from seeing all the washed pieces blowing on the washing line at the end of the day. Knowing that she is taking home a regular, reliable wage is also a huge bonus to Stella as she has three children still in school. In total Stella has six children – her eldest daughter is 37 and her youngest is 7, so she has spent all her adult life raising children. Stella’s husband passed away in 1998, at which time she began to look for employment to support her family. Her second eldest daughter is 30 and still lives at home as she suffers from serious epilepsy, so Stella also has to take care of her. Happily one of Stella’s sons passed Grade 12 at school so now works for a local safari lodge and brings in extra income to help the family. Stella’s wages have supported her family for many years and she has also saved enough to build a small house that they now live in. When she is not at work, Stella is very involved with her Church – she helps to run the Sunday school and also assists with offering free counselling to members of the community. In the future she hopes to build another house that she can rent for extra income.
As this newsletter goes out, there is a hint of dryness in the air, and the cacophony of birdsong is quieter than before – both of these are sure signs that the rains are coming to an end and we can look forward to 6 or 7 months of dry days. The promise of a new season is always exciting both for Tribal and for the safari world from which Tribal has always drawn so much creative inspiration.
That’s it from us for now; we look forward to bringing you more of our news later in the season. In the meantime, here’s a lovely photo of George (the son of Evans, our head of painting) taken during our Raindance in Rajastan photoshoot