Otjinene Leather Man Making Strides

A resident of Otjikorondo in the Otjinene Constituency, Gerson Murangi, is a craftsman of note who is earning a living by making leather from animal skin to customise and revamp into anything – from chairs, shoes and bags to horse saddles, omutjira (Ovaherero traditionally worn leather loincloth), leashes and many more.

“I can do anything you want,” he says confidently, as he turns around animal skins that have been soaked in a big container of water mixed with ombaaha (a colouring plant found in the forest).

Murangi started his leather business, a very rare business concept in the area, after returning from Gama in Botswana where he perfected the art some six years ago.

He says that he used to hear on radio about making goods from leather, but was always curious to know how to make it.

He explains that the process of making leather goods starts with buying different animal hides from people.

“I first put salt on the skin to dry, then I mix that with ash and water and let it dry for days,” he says, adding that ash makes the fur fall off and smoothens the skin.

After that the hide is covered with maize until it rots, after which it is washed with salt water.

“Then the skin is soaked in ombaaha mixed with water to give the leather colour and to make it g,” his continues.

Finally, the hide is soaked in water again and dried, after which cooking oil and soap are smeared and left in the sun to dry, turning it into the final product of leather.

Murangi says that he sells his leather to a lot of people in Omaheke, as well as exporting to Botswana.

“I make good profit, but as with everything, I am also struggling because I don’t have the necessary machines to make the process faster.”

He says that government sponsored him with a water pipe and water tank to continue his project.

He has also trained some people on the leather-making technique.

Source : New Era