father, one of three shop owners in Mkwiro. At 2sh per necklace the return to theproducers was too low and the enterprise was subsequently abandoned.Under the second chairwoman a more promising trade was found. This followed avisit from the chairwoman and co-ordinator of Shimoni women’s group. Shimoni hadbegun working with Tototo Home Industries in 1978, producing woven handicrafts tobe marketed through Tototo’s shop in Mombasa. The co-ordinator, a young man,suggested that Mkwiro do the same, bringing its goods to the mainland to be collectedby Tototo. This they began to do, in 1980. (The history of this enterprise is examinedin detail in a later section). In early 1982 the group was adopted by Tototo. The firstco-ordinator, a woman of 18, proved unpopular with other members and quit the postin November. Unwell, she later dropped out of the group. Her place was taken in1983 by the group’s first secretary, then 20, and another young secretary wasappointed.Meanwhile, the group had chosen a project: construction of a multi-purpose buildingto act as a kiosk (small shop), nursery school, office and meeting-place for the group.In August 1980 the group was registered with the Ministry of Culture and SocialServices and, helped by the CDA, opened a bank account in Msambweni with theminimum deposit of 500sh. In October the group was given 5,000sh for its project bythe Ministry. Work on the building progressed slowly: by September 1981 the grouphad bought two tons of cement, 400 coral blocks, and had paid a builder 1,000sh.However, no sooner had work begun on the foundations than a local man informedthe group of his ownership of the plot they were building upon. Following his refusalto come to terms work came to a halt. The project was not abandoned, but it was notuntil December 1985 that another plot was found, on land belonging to Mkwiroprimary school.
SUCCUMBING TO TRADITIONChoosing another project
Following its adoption by Tototo, the group was encouraged to choose anotherproject. Members divided over two alternatives: construction of a water resevoir orpurchase of a boat. Both of these reflected Mkwiro’s island isolation. A boat couldbe used to ferry passengers and their loads between Mkwiro and the mainland at2