Sinclair Yao Daley
"I am a woodcarver who is friendly and at the same time shy. I am a firm person and stick to my words. <br><br> "I was born on May 20, 1948 in Kpando-Fesi in the Volta Region of Ghana. As I was growing up in my hometown, I used to carve when I was in school, but little did I know that I would one day become a woodcarver. <br><br> "I came to Accra to meet my dad, who was an ex-service man, because he wasn't staying with us. While I was living with him, I worked as a gardener to make some money. I kept complaining that I wasn't earning much. <br><br> "At the time, my father was into carving and had been asking to me to join him in his workshop, but I wasn't interested. I once visited him at work and he asked me to help with some masks he was carving. To his surprise, I finished earlier than his apprentice and did a good job. My dad sold the masks and gave me a commission, and I realized this was more than I earned as a gardener. <br><br> "That convinced me. I quit my job as a gardener and started assisting my father in his workshop. Eventually, I went to Mr. Winfred Ezi to learn how to carve other items and also to improve on my skills. Learning from the beginning wasn't easy for me. I had to observe my master as he carved and identify how he handled his tools carefully when carving to master my craft. <br><br> "When I started working on my own, it was not an easy task because all I had were the raw materials. I had to produce and sell in order to have money to live on. <br><br> "Papa Billy, who was from Nigeria, was my first customer. He purchased a lot my designs and his praise for my work encouraged me. <br><br> "My family members who work with me are organized well in such a way that the beginners start with woodcutting and others are involved with shaping the wood into images. Some also drill through the images and some women do the painting. <br><br> "The materials I use are wood, stones, clay, dye, jute, cola nuts, soot and dust. I usually buy some of these from the market and prepare the others on my own. Currently, I am training eleven apprentices. <br><br> "I look out for accuracy and good imagination and creativity in my designs. I get my inspiration from my environment and the people around me. Also people who purchase my masks usually inspire me, and their satisfaction is a source of joy. <br><br> "My hope and plans for the future include establishing a workshop in my hometown and starting a tree farm and a fish farm to help the youth there have a source of income. My woodcarving workshop has created a source of employment for the young people in my community and they pick up the remaining scraps for firewood. Others use the bark of the trees as medicine."