Bahati John works on a narrow street in Chamazi and her main clients are passers-by

By Hamisi Iddi Hamisi

Deep in the Swahili architecture of Dar es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania, lies Chamazi area where Bahati John has been weaving mats to secure income and support her family of four children.

Bahati, popularly known as Mrs Khadija, mastered weaving through her sense of touch after being introduced to the craft by her friends in 1994.

She told TRT Afrika that her passion for weaving started when she was young.

Once, after telling a friend that she liked weaving, the friend offered to teach her by holding her hands and giving a demonstration.

Bahati is able to match various colours on her mats.

Bahati said: “My friend started to guide me through holding my hands, because blind people do their work by touch”

“She told me to weave like this, this is how people weave.”

The East Africa country is experiencing harsh times and young people have raised concerns about unemployment. But Bahati has never allowed her disability to limit her capacity to engage in a meaningful livelihood.

The craft relies on the use of reeds and she saves on money budgeted by her mother for the household to buy materials for weaving mats.

Bahati told TRT Afrika that depending on the size of the mat, she takes between three weeks to one month to finish weaving one mat.

Bahati sees her weaving as her chance to avoid dependance on others 

The mother of four says she still has two school-going children whom she supports with her craft.

“If I sell my mat, I solve the problems faced by my children,” said Bahati.

Bahati has made it clear to neighbours that she does not seek pity from her disability. Every early morning she leaves her home for work like everyone else.

TRT Afrika