Gusii Soapstone Industry:Critical issues, Opportunities, Challenges & Future Alternatives


Gusii Soapstone Industry:Critical issues, Opportunities, Challenges & Future Alternatives

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As is the case with most African indigenous industries, not much research has been done on
the Gusii soapstone industry. Consequently, the main aim of this book is to fill the identified
gap. Specifically, this book traces the origin of the Gusii soapstone industry, going through
various stages, i.e. the Pre-Colonial, Colonial and Post-Colonial periods. Within this historical
context, the book provides an elucidation of the social, economic, political and cultural factors
that have impacted on the evolution and/or development of the soapstone industry. A critical
issue captured in the book is the fact that, over the years, the soapstone handicraft products
have been transformed from being items of utility for the local people to, mainly, becoming
non-utility items that are sold to outsiders, particularly international tourists as unique pieces
of indigenous handicraft and/or African art. However, it should be noted that, notwithstanding
this transformation, indigenous cultural attributes and/or cultural themes that would have
otherwise disappeared, due to increased impacts of globalization, are being preserved by the
sculpturing of unique indigenous soapstone products. Furthermore, currently, the soapstone
industry has become a major source of livelihood for the Gusii people of Tabaka in
Southwestern Kenya.
This book provides a lucid articulation of various facets (i.e., social, economic, cultural and
political perspectives) of the Gusii soapstone industry, and the fundamental factors that have
made the industry survive, over the years, notwithstanding the introduction of mass produced
goods from the Western world. The conceptualization of the role of the indigenous industry in
promoting sustainable livelihood is clearly brought out, and is presented within the broader
milieu of the Gusii society. The book provides excellent reading for anyone interested in having
proper perspectives on the history and the overall development of the Gusii soapstone industry.
Elkanah Ong’esa, a world renowned artist and soapstone sculptor.
As much as the soapstone sculptures are found in museums, art galleries, curio shops and
people’s homes in most major cities of the world, not much research and documentation of
these unique indigenous industry initiatives has been done. In light of that, this book on the
Gusii soapstone industry fills a critical niche and is quite handy for people from all walks of
life and academia looking for up to date information on the Gusii soapstone industry. Dr.
Margaret Barasa, Anthropolinguistic Expert, and Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social
Sciences, Kisii University, Kenya.
Most literature on African indigenous industries, such as soapstone mining, carving and
marketing, is based on Eurocentric approach which looks at these industries and African art as
exotic items for the pleasure of Western gentry and middleclass. Adopting an Afrocentric
approach, this book provides a refreshing analysis of the history, transformation and growth of
the Gusii soapstone industry; an indigenous initiative that has evolved, systematically, over the
years, and has shown a lot of resiliency in the face of many complex challenges. The book is
recommended to people who want to have a proper perspective of similar indigenous industries
and the Gusii soapstone industry in particular. Matunda Nyanchama, Publisher.
This book looks at the resilience of the soapstone industry in Gusii. It shows that the soapstone
carvings as currently developed by the Gusii people may have its origin in ancient traditions
that dates back to hundreds and perhaps thousands of years. It also gives a good historical
analysis of the growth and development of the soapstone industry. It will goes a long way in
illuminating critical aspects of the Gusii soapstone industry. Herman Kiriama, Senior
Research Fellow, Kisii University, Kenya.

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Vendor Information

  • Store Name: Nsemia Inc Publishers
  • Vendor: Linda Kiboma
  • Address: Moi Avenue
    Nairobi County
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