Yanda Yayi, blinded by years of sitting in front of an open fire, created glass beads for most of his 80 years. He was the second oldest man in the Masaga community of glassmakers that had seen the making of bikini glass ( a term the Masaga people use that describes indigenously made glass) in his youth. In November 2019 when I produced a documentary about the Masaga glassmaking community, he was present, everyday, and contributed generously to the reconstructing of the process to make bikini glass,
The urgency to make the documentary about locally produced bikini glass was that the Masaga community had not made bikini glass for over 50 years and only two men had ever seen it produced by their forefathers. Yanda Yayi was one of the two. Recreating this process for the community to witness the legend of making bikini glass in the present took a year of difficult negotiation. I believed passionately their story had to be told.
Unfortunately, the film has yet to be edited and released. Hopefully the release will be by September 2020 but too late for Yanda Yayi.
All Photographs and text are under international copyright laws. No re-use without the written permission of Lesley Lababidi 2023.
Bida Glass: Bangles and Beads
Bida Glass at Muséo Parc Alésia, France
I’m sorry to hear of the death of Yandi. I imagine his participation in the glass making movie meant the world to him. He is immortalized because of you.
Thank you for the warm thoughts and your kindness. L.
May his soul rest in peace.
Wonderful that you were able to film him while he was a living historical ‘document’.
Thank you for doing the important work of documenting the history and craft of bikini glass. A work of priceless value, Lesley.
Dearest Olatoun, Your comment helped me as I am so sad this man won’t see the documentary. It makes me want to have the film immediately before another person in this community won’t enjoy seeing their heritage. Thank you.L.
We send our condolences to his family and our congratulations to you for having recorded his heritage.
Thank you! I will pass on your condolences to the Masaga community. L.
Thank you. I will send your condolences to the Masaga community
Such a blessing that you were able to film him!
Thank you Debra! This documentary rivals with time of the aging. L.
Thank you so much for your comment. Because it makes a difference. L.
May his soul rest in peace!