Rural craftsmanship at the heart of sustainable development

In the BBC series Lost Kingdoms of Africa, Gus Casely Hayford highlights the ancient crafts of Benin with particular reference to the sophistication of process and design. Transformational Logistics supporters And Albert Foundation (AAF)has championed traditional skills in Africa for many years and in this film AAF founder David Murden draws out comparisons between skilled craftsmen from the North of England with traditional skills in Ghana. This film was made at the annual sheep dog trials taking place on the Lonsdale Estate, Cumbria and on location in Ghana. In the next few weeks, David Murden will lead a team exploring traditional skills some more in a journey from the coast of Ghana into the Sahel mapping the crafts as they move.

Working with the Transformational Logistics team, we are looking to set up an And Albert store, exhibition centre and workshop within the Northern Corridor from Humber to Mersey as a hub for the exploration of traditional skills worldwide. Why not?

We support digital technology across many of our projects but it is time to shout out loud – traditional crafts cannot be forgotten. Richard Sennett in his masterful work The Craftsman (2009)explores the nature of traditional crafts; those that mature through time and can teach far more than delivering output. The trial and error of making things is the stuff of innovation and, working to attain these timeless skills can play a significant role in sustainable communities. Ask a traditional carpet maker in a Kurdish village; a craftsman in bronze in Benin; a wood carver in Komasi; a basket maker in Bolgatanga … what is the added value in their work. The answer is something we need to listen to.

Archomai, AAF and the Hull Freedom Centre are working on a transformational project in the Volta river system from the coast of Ghana to the Sahel in Burkina Faso. The idea is to trace a historic slave trade route from the Sahel villages to the Gold Coast as part of an exciting initiative to develop a viable trade corridor. This is all part of the International dimension of the Northern Gateways initiative based in the North of England.



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