Petronille Uwimana learned to create musical shakers in 1990 at the age of 42. Sitting alongside a neighbouring craftsman, Petronille watched, learned and eventually mastered the art. Now in her late 60s, Petronille is widowed with 4 children and 9 grandchildren. She grows gourds in her garden from which she makes her shakers yet, as the market grows she buys gourds from other places. Petronille uses her income to provide basic needs for her family including health insurance, farm animals and to shares with neighbours in need. In her free time Petronille likes to visit friends and sings in her church choir.
How does Petronille make her musical shakers? Once her gourds are grown, harvested, hollowed and dried, the art can begin. Petronille takes her specially-made tools and heats them to red-hot in a charcoal fire. Then she carefully pushes the hot metal rod through the dried gourd, forming a pattern with each small hole that is created. She has to be careful to make enough holes to bring out her design and create a good shaker sound, but not so many that the gourd becomes weak. Petronille then carves the shaker handle from a branch of a local tree, creating a simple design with black paint over the engraved wood. She fills the gourd with a handful of flower seeds, glues on the handle and voila...a musical shaker has been born!