We spent the day with Abdulhi Ibrahim, a Ghana-based Nigerian artisan who manufactures suitcases made of crocodile leather from Northern Nigeria.
There has been a lot of coverage on Northern Nigeria in the past few years. Most of these stories have been of Boko Haram terrorizing innocent citizens. It was refreshing to Kano state was responsible for the production of some of our best suitcases.
How long have you been in this business?
I have been manufacturing and distributing leather bags since 1980. I observed the process of making crocodile leather all around me as a child, it was only right that I engaged in the craft as an adult.
What are your thoughts on Ghana's artisan industry?
It has been over 30 years now, the industry fluctuates: sometimes there is a great demand due to some political event happening (like when J.J. Rawlings and his wife traveled abroad to promote Ghanaian goods) and even during Kuffour's era. people flooded our stores for products. Business has been a bit slow now and could be due to a number of factors (increased counterfeit goods, the ebola scare, the economy) we are all hopeful it will pick up again.
What are some lessons you can share with young people looking to work in your industry?
The arts and crafts industry was big 20-30 years ago, as I told you earlier, customers were all over our shops and we had really great buyers. Today things are not the same. The market has expanded, customers cannot differentiate one product from another let alone find the original products.
As much as I would like many young people to engage in this industry, I would advice them to focus on their skills so they will be better equipped to pull through challenges within their field without giving up.
All of Ibrahim's suitcases are 15% off from now until January 27th. Coupon Code is Ibrahim
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