Women Potters In Rumbek Turning Their Talent Into A Full Time Business Venture

Pottery has been an important part of human culture for thousands of years.

Women Potters In Rumbek Turning Their Talent Into A Full Time Business Venture

By Mabor Riak Magok

RUMBEK, 19 January 2018 [Gurtong] -
For the women of Rumbek this has become a business venture for them. Women in Rumbek can be found along the riverside molding and shaping clay pots for sale. This they do for sale in order to survive the current hardships they are facing.
Most of these women are either widowed or are helping their husbands who earn peanuts to survive.

45 year old, Elizabeth Yom explains to Gurtong the process they take in making these clay pots.
To gather the clay one must first be able to recognize it. In its dry state it may look like rocks; in its wet state, like mud. After gathering enough of the clay they allow the clay to dry. This is accomplished by breaking up the clay into small pieces as you can and allowing it to sit in the sun.

Yom then says that the dry clay is then crushed into a powder using a big flat rock as a table and the smaller rock as a grinding tool. This is the point where they remove any rocks or debris that might be mixed in with the clay.

After having the pure dry powdered clay they then re-wet it. This is done slowly adding a little water at a time until the clay is thoroughly wet.

Yom Mangu said during the dry season a group of about 10 women go along the riverside of Bahr Naam to make the pots for sale and supply them to rural areas.

“We are ten in number, we go out to the riverside dig up the clay after that we dry it for some days then re-wet it and on the next day we mold and shape it accordingly,” said Yom.

She then said the next step is firing the pot. One must then make a fire under and around your pot to fire it. This is the process where the pot now dries up. “The actual wood of the fire should not touch the clay” said Yom. “Set the clay near the fire and allow it to slowly warm up.”

She said once the pot is dried up making changes is irreversible. That’s the point when it is fragile. Once the clay pot breaks then that can only mean one must start the process all over again.

“Of late pots are used for storing fresh water for drinking at home both in the town and in the rural areas,” said Yom.

Akudior Mark, who also sells pots, explained to Gurtong the difference between pots for storing drinking water and those for cooking.

“There is a difference between these two pots. The one for storing water at home the top is narrow and longer. These ones usually carry water amounting to two and a half jerry cans. The ones for cooking have a wider top and a bit large in size in order to make it easy for cooking,” said Akudior.

She also noted that after buying a new pot one must first store water in it for at least seven days before beginning to use it so that the pot can absorb the water and make it firm. If this is not done the pot is bound to get damages within a short period of time.

She said the price of each pot varies depending with the size as they have small, medium and large sizes.

Small pots are sold at 750 SSP, medium pots at 1,000 SSP and the largest is sold at 1,250.
Akudior said, it take a day to travel to the riverside where they dig up the clay soil and four days to make the pots.

“The reason we decided to commit ourselves into this tiresome business is because we don’t have any other source of income for us to be able to survive. The little that we get here out of these Pots is what we use to buy maize flour or grains for our children at home.  We can’t take our children to the cattle camps and there is insecurity there. We must struggle to feed them.” she said.


Posted in: Featured Stories
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19/01/2018, 11:42 AM
 - Posted by Jacob Akol
These Lakes women have a habit of making encouraging news. Not long ago a group of them went to India to study "solar engineering" to return and maintain their solar water pumps, which they used during dry season for vegetable gardens. One of the womegoing to India informed me that their vegetables were already dominant in Rumbek market. Our reporter there is following what happened after their return from studies in India. Watch this space.
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