Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Half an hour drive outside Jinka, near Kako village in the direction of Key Afar, we encountered a truly remarkable man. Kuse Kashala is an Ethiopian, of uncertain tribal origin, who started, some years ago, to make things from the rubbish people threw away. He has no particular answer to the question why, perhaps he was bored, or perhaps he was, unwittingly, attracted by the creative process, who knows. Then, by chance, a few months ago some tourists saw his work, and were enthusiastic enough to purchase some of it. Ever since Kuse Kashala has seen the light. Outside his little hut and atelier he has now a permanent exposition of sculptures of animals, people, anything really, a colourful announcement to passing vehicles – like ours, and we certainly were sufficiently attracted to stop.
A tour of Kashala’s workshop quickly ignites our excitement. His is really a fabulous collection, using used plastic plates, lamps, wooden sticks, metal scrap, animal hides, you name it – as long as it is available locally – and Kashala has incorporated it in one of his masterpieces. Unfortunately, many of the pieces are too big to carry, and others may well attract customs attention when crossing borders: plenty of countries frown upon importing animal skin products. We bought a small sculpture – of course, we couldn’t leave without one -, and we tried to explain a little about a more commercial approach, or at least more customer friendly, but I doubt whether this really got home, not only because of the language barrier, but also because Kuse Kashala doesn’t seem to care much about the commercial side of his business, he just likes making these things. A true artist, perhaps, they still exist!
(1) the sculpture garden along the road, which attracted our attention
(2, 3) two more of the sculptures outside
(4, 5) and some of the works in the atelier, inside; the lower one we acquired for our art collection at home!
(6) and Kuse Kashale himself, in front of a self-portrait