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About this Workshop

Description

In this Workshop, Learners will make their own Baya!

“Baya” is the Swahili name for the beaded waist belts that are very common in African traditions. They vary in shape and size, and often have added crystals, as well as coral shells, to enhance their beauty.  They can be worn under the clothes, but there are those who prefer theirs to be seen.

These beaded belts are given to children during naming ceremonies. Later, they are an indicator of maturity and the transition from childhood to womanhood, as they signify fertility. They show deep connection to tradition.

The colors of the beads have meaning and are used for a purpose: brown for stability and grounding (earth); green for prosperity, abundance, hope and healing; blue for healing, insight and truth; purple for spirituality, wisdom and royalty; white for light and purity; yellow for clarity, awareness, energy and joy; red for vitality, bravery, confidence and passion.

These waist belts are given to children, both boys and girls, to serve as a constant reminder of the connection to our heritage; that life is a continuous cycle (circular shape) and that those born are connected to previous generations.

Boys later outgrow theirs, and they are not replaced. As for girls, it is worn forever, and a second set of the belts are given at the onset of the menstrual cycle. This signifies that she has transitioned from childhood to womanhood.

Waist belts are also used for weight awareness. Before making the first waist belt, one takes the measurement and the belt is made according to those measurements. Some waist belts have a clasp (like the one we will be making) while others do not, hence are to be worn permanently. So, if there is an increase (weight gain) they become tighter and move upwards, and if there is a decrease in waist (weight loss) they become looser and move to the lower parts of the body. When this happens one can now decide on what measures to take, for example to exercise or eat more to manage weight.

Waist belts are steeped in tradition here in Kenya, and I look forward to sharing these traditions with you and teaching you to make your own waist belt.  

Please note: This Workshop is recommended for children ages 12+ as it requires a keen eye, a steady hand, a certain level of dexterity, and some patience.

What You'll Need

GLOkit What's a GLOkit?

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Baya Beaded Waist Belt from Kenya GLOkit

This GLOkit contains: nylon string, glass beads in a variety of colors, two cowrie shells and three metal clasps.

GLOkit Included
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Additional Supplies

Learners will also need:

  • A flat surface to work on
  • A bowl or tray to work over, to catch the beads from falling
  • Scissors

Technical Requirements

You will need a device (computer or tablet) that is equipped with a camera, microphone, and speakers. For more information, please check out our Technical Requirements page.

Meet the Instructor

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LYDIA ADUNG'OView Profile

I am Lydia Kagonya, proudly from Africa!  I live in Kenya, although my family has no specific nationality since we come from various African countries.  I live in Nakuru county, and my town is known for the flamingos in Lake Nakuru that resemble a pink carpet. It is a cosmopolitan town, where all of the tribes found in Kenya, as well as other nationals, are found.  Hyrax Hill, identified as a cradle of mankind, is also in my locality.  The museum there holds a historical record of the tools, ornaments and other cultural artifacts of early man.

I have grown up with an appreciation of the culture of my Plain Nilote roots (Maasai), because of the efforts kept to preserve our traditions.  Beadwork in my culture can be traced back to the 16th century, when ornaments were made from bones, seeds and flowers.  When trade began in Africa, my people (who are pastoralists) moved over very long distances in search of pasture and water, and interacted with traders who exchanged beads for cattle.  This has caused beadwork to become very popular in African traditions, and it is steeped into our cultural ceremonies for birth, naming, initiation and weddings.  As the knowledge is passed down from generation to generation as a means of preserving culture, I was introduced to beadwork at a very young age.

I believe in the beauty of diversity. Knowledge of other people's cultures allows us to appreciate our differences, which are at the heart of our humanity.  I look forward to sharing my culture’s crafts and traditions with you!

 

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Baya Beaded Waist Belt from Kenya