I currently work with the Nakate Project, a company I launched out of Uganda in 2010. Nakate seeks to bring attention to cultural, religious and economic issues surrounding individual women through bringing their designs, and their stories with them, to the industry’s forefront.
For a year now, we have been selling recycled paper necklaces made by hand in many African countries. But, in our second year, our goal has been to expand into other sustainable material. By sustainable, we mean material that is not otherwise used. We mean material that does not harm the environment. And, we mean material that might go to waste if we do not use it.
This is exactly the kind of material we found in the horns of an East African breed of cattle called the Ankole Watusi. It is a native, African breed and it has large, distinctive horns that can grow to be 8 feet long. The cow itself weighs anywhere from 900 to 1,600 pounds (410 to 730 kg).
This type of cow is a common breed in the East African country of Uganda, where Nakate is located.
Morris Onapa, a local resident, told us that these cows are referred to in his village as “Ankle cows.” They are regularly taken to market for meat, and their horn goes to waste unless its used to create artisan goods.
“These cows are taken to an open market usually just an open ground where they are sold and loaded into tracks and transported to the towns where they are slaughtered,” Morris said. “The horns are collected in a heap and burnt unless someone offers to buy them or even take them for free.”
At Nakate, one of our highest commitments has been to not only to promoting social good for women in Uganda, but to running our business in a way that also promotes and protects the environment. We desire to provide an alternative to fast fashion, a way to buy goods that support a cause and at the same time are using local material that would not otherwise be utilized. Through taking cow horn that is often burnt or wasted, we are seeking to remain faithful to these commitments, while standing out in the fashion market as a unique provider of African goods.
The cow horn we use is dried in the sun, and then cut with a small jig saw and fashioned into earrings, bracelet cuffs and necklace pendants. Its natural colors can range anywhere from white to orange, gray, brown or black.
Our cow horn goods will be released in our online store in the summer of 2012.
Enter Nakate’s cow horn cuff giveaway.