Production of clay vessels in Kenya is an ancient craft that has been used by many both as a hobby and a source of income.
One such individual is 54-year-old Nicholas Ontita from Nyabigege village, Kitutu Chache, who is exploiting this skill to earn a living.
“I started using clay soil to mold vessels and bricks of different sizes when I was in class two.This was when I realised that I had a gift but back then, I did it purely for leisure,” he says.
When his parents could not pay for his secondary education, Ontita turned to his crafting skill and began molding bricks and jikos using clay soil from his family’s homestead.
“I made Sh100,000 within the first two months of beginning this venture and this changed our family’s living standards completely,” he says.
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Ontita then decided to challenge himself further and started working on animal designs. He finally settled on molding kangaroos and his work immediately appealed to a larger clientele.
“These kangaroo animal designs have changed my life completely. They are in high demand among people who use them as decorative objects in their gardens, homes and shops,” he says.
The work is also well paying with the artist saying he now makes more than Sh200,000 from his clay works which also attract buyers from within and outside Kenya.
The work is however, labour intensive with Ontita saying it takes four to six months for his artefacts to dry completely due to the large amounts of soil used in molding them.
He has also taken to mentoring and training youth in order to show them that it is not just white collar jobs that pay.