Last Month, September, was her first time in Nigeria, and she visited on business. To attend the 15th edition of the recently held Akwaaba African Travel Market. She was one of the exhibitors who paraded their products during the three days gathering; an art and craft specialist.
Lucy Nyeri, is a Kenyan but resides in Durban, South Africa, from where she runs her arts and craft business. She exhibited under the banner of her country, Kenya, and her presence attracted quite a lot of traffic to the stand.
Although she has had no time to explore Lagos, but she was amazed by the human and vehicular traffic, admitting how excited she was to finally step her foot on Nigeria’s soil having had stories about the country and encountered not a few Nigerians.
However, she expressed displeasure over the treatment meted to travellers at the airport as she was shocked when told to pay for a trolley before she could use it. She was in a confused and dumbfounded stage, but she was rescued by a Nigerian who offered to pay for her as she had no naira on her.
The money was later refunded with generous interest to the Nigerian by her host who were waiting for her outside the terminal building. Other than this ugly incident, she said she thoroughly enjoyed her visit, particularly the exhibition where she met with a lot of people and conducted brisk business.
‘‘It is not too bad in terms of marketing and I am hoping to get a positive feedback from it,’’ she said, adding that she would love to attend the exhibition again now that she has been exposed to it and knows exactly what the market and Nigerians want.
‘‘It is something that I will like to attend again, at least I have gotten the exposure and I know what is it that they want,’’ she disclosed. She is a teacher by training and profession and had a school in Nairobi that she was running before she was introduced into the art and craft business and since coming into the business over nine years ago, she has not looked back.
According to her, she creates her works by herself, source for the materials and whenever there is a large order to deliver, she employs more hands to assist.
‘‘A friend introduced me to this business and I actually love it. I still feel passion for teaching but I love art and I am actually a fast learner and I create new designs every day.
‘‘But I also teaches others how to do it and I have done it now for at least nine years and to be in a business for nine years it means you are doing well and I don’t mind doing it for more years and on a larger scale.’’
For her, one of the challenges she faces has to do with people not easily appreciating the high quality of the product. Also, the time consuming nature of it and getting the right market for the product.
Although the materials for her creations are readily available, however, she lamented the non – availability of the right colours, which she said takes time to get and put together to deliver on her order.
By Andrew Iro Okungbowa