Who We Are
Sirigu is a village in Northern Ghana, well known for its traditional architecture, pottery and wall designs. It is situated in the subsahel savannah area. The village can be reached by motorable gravel road that passes the undulating rural area with its scattered trees, houses, its farmland and grazing areas. Farmers frow sorgum, millet, groundnuts and keep cattle, goats, and fowls. In the rainy season the fields are green, but in the dry season the yellow and brown colours dominate. The people of this area mostly farmers but due to low prices, unreliable rains and degrading farmland, the productivity of agriculture is going down.
Women in Sirigu have a weak social and economic position because of the traditional relations in the family system (that includes dowry, polygamy), the low literacy level and the heavy workload in farming, crafts and household activities. Pottery and wall decoration are activities that provide income and give cultural identity for women in the traditional society.
In 1997 SWOPA, the Sirigu Women Organisation for Pottery and Art was established.
The founder of SWOPA, Mme Melanie Kasise, is the first woman of the community who received higher education. She has made a career in the educational service in Ghana and after her retirement she decided to dedicate herself to improve the situation of 'her sisters in the community'. She indicated: 'My mother was a famous wall painter and potter. She was able to pay for my school fees through incomes she earned from pottery. I want to support women in Sirigu to strengthen their position through pottery, art and education'.
SWOP provides a unique opportunity for women to come together to share problems, strengthen social ties and solidarity, to modify power in family relations, to improve the marketing and produce pottery and art, to improve marketing and the income situation. Art and craft also present opportunities for women to develop and express their individual qualities and identity.