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Kofia weaving, a tradition earning livelihood to 63 year old granny

Khadija Hakofa Dawa has become a household name on the streets of Lamu Old Town.

Ms Dawa,63, is a resident of Kandahar area within the archipelago.The mother of five is popularly known because of her skills and expertise in weaving kofias.These caps which are normally worn by Swahili Muslim men within the island, the Coast region, and some Muslim towns in the country.

Ms Dawa has been in the business of making kofias for more than 40 years.

She told Coast Business that she learned the art from her grandmother.Because she did not attend any formal class, she was married at the tender age of 18 years. Ms Dawa says she started weaving kofias while in her 20s.

She became an expert as she had to work hard to earn a living and assist her husband who was working as a casual labourer.After some years, she was able to grow her customer base as people from far and wide would seek after her services of making kofias.

“People love the way I make these kofias. My price is affordable and I am fast to start and complete these caps. Initially, my customers were mostly neighbours but today, I receive customers from all over. I am 63 years old but I can’t quit the job. I will do it and it’s only death that will make me part with this profession of mine. I don’t have a husband. My job keeps me busy and company at the same time,” said Ms Dawa.

In order to ensure the skill is passed from one generation to the next, Ms Dawa has taken a personal initiative where she has taught two of her daughters the skill of weaving kofias and they are now experts.

She has also gone further to also teach her grandchildren about kofia making and some have already mastered the art.

“I don’t regret having this skill. My husband died a long time ago and left me with five children. I am happy that through the art of kofia making, I was able to raise my children until they became adults and some married. I have taught my daughters the skill to enable them to also make money out of it and assist their husbands in the house,” said Ms Dawa.

Mbwana Titi praised Ms Dawa for being one of the renowned kofia makers of Lamu.

“I always seek Ms Dawa’s services every time I need kofia. She is good at this. Her style of making these caps is unique,” said Mr Titi.

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