Collective Stories | Part II
Collective Stories | Waraniéné
Last week we shared a bit of information about Waraniéné. How their collective began and their artistic process. But Waraniéné’s story hardly ends there. Côte d’Ivoire’s recent history is filled with highs and lows; economic progress marred by deep rooted political tensions. However, it is usually times of turmoil that breed strong and enduring trends in visual culture and Waraniéné is no exception, having long been a safe haven for artisans.
In 2002, Côte d’Ivoire broke out in a civil war which would last for ten years. For two years, Waraniéné stopped producing cloth. With the steep drop in consumerism as the local population saved every penny to buy food and other daily necessities. Waraniéné was forced to turn their attention towards other means of generating an income. Shea butter trees used to surround the village, however today only a few remain, the others were cut down to sell during this period of unrest. In 2005, peacekeeping forces from the government arrived and started purchasing cloth and supplying food. Waraniéné began functioning as a collective once more, slowly re-building their business.
Many communities were completely closed down and shut off to other modes of trade and consumerism. This forced many artisans to relocate in an attempt to continue selling their goods. This was especially true for the village of Kapele, located on the opposite side of Korhogo to Waraniéné. The artisans make gorgeous painted ceramic beads, a tradition that has lasted generations. During the conflict, they moved to Waraniéné, which welcomed them with open arms. They have been there ever since.
Witnessing the dedication and attention to preservation Waraniéné has for their craft is infectious. It is remarkable that in this day and age, with so much focus on fast consumerism, social media, and the ability to access anything from anywhere that this type of tangible and focused workmanship still exists.