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.