While I was in Cameroon last week, I had a chance to go out to film with one of the youth groups. Earlier in the week they had worked together to map out their community and look at local resources, and one of those resources was PresPot, a local business that makes different types of clay products. It’s part of a larger initiative, supported by Presbyterians (get it? PresPot?).
The PresPot is a pretty cool place. It’s located down one of the roads leading off the highway near Ndop, the main town in the area of Bamenda where we were working.
The kids had their storyboard and their interview already prepared, and they got going by first asking the manager for permission and his consent to film and do some interviews. They explained that they were not doing a film for commercial purposes but as part of a project they were working on.
The manager gave them an overview of the work area, gave staff permission to be interviewed, and then went through the shop where they sell their things, explaining each product in detail.
The clay used comes from the area nearby, It’s one of the highest quality clays. A ton of different items are made here out of the clay.
There’s everything from tiny trinkets, carved by hand to big pots using the potters wheel. One guy explained that he was making a lot of Noah’s Arks. He was carving little zebras using a knife.
I watched another guy spinning a pot. He uses his foot to spin the wheel. He mentioned that PresPot also has a guest house, and that lots of foreigners come to visit and rest there. I asked if they also do pottery classes but he didn’t seem to get what I meant.
(I know some people who would love to go to the beautiful mountains of Ndop, and spend a week learning to throw pottery….)
After the pieces dry, they are fired. It was pretty hot in there.
Out back, away from the firing ovens, one guy was making clay roof tiles. He said he makes 150 tile per day and they take 2 days to dry and then they fire them. He works Monday through Saturday.
Another guy was adding little figures to the pots that the other guy was spinning. He was using glue to attach them.
And another one was finishing the pots up.
The shop has all kinds of clay products as well as products that come from 2 other regions that work with wood and with fibers, bamboo and palm.
There is a shipping area where their items go out to the whole world.
I kept wondering if this little business was really sustainable, or if a Presbyterian NGO or church was supporting and it was barely profitable like many of the little craft businesses I’ve seen people try to fund.
The kids were doing the questioning, not me, and so I didn’t butt in to ask. It does seems like this small business is thriving. It’s nice to see that this exists in the community, and it will be cool to see the kids’ video on it.
I also think it’s interesting that the kids chose to show the PresPot as one of their community resources, but they didn’t mention any of the small business/ market sellers lining the streets of Ndop.
Walking down the main road in Ndop, there are people selling fresh boiled peanuts, roasted corn, and palm wine. There are mechanic shops, and places to get your hair done and fabric shops. There are corner stores and taxis and bars. Maybe the kids will do a piece on the market as the project goes on.
If you ever get out to the Bamenda area, I’d suggest checking out PresPot and maybe staying there to kick back for a couple days. Maybe they will teach you to throw some pots….